Bibi and her baby will be kept away from the public as authorities monitor their progress over the next two weeks.
Fiona the hippo is now a big sister, confirmed the Cincinnati Zoo. Fiona's mother, Bibi, gave birth to a healthy, full-term calf and the zoo authorities noted that the baby weighs twice as Fiona did when she was born. Fiona was born six weeks premature in 2017 and was taken care of for a while. This is Bibi's second baby. “This calf looks huge to us because Fiona, Bibi’s first baby, only weighed 29 pounds when she was born six weeks premature and wasn’t able to stand on her own," said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care in a statement. "This new calf weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking.”
The zoo was alerted that Bibi had gone into labor on Tuesday after the hippo team noticed a difference in Bibi's behavior, reported PEOPLE. "She was restless outside and then wanted to go inside and stay there," they noted. Bibi was expected to give birth in mid-August. The zoo authorities were concerned if the baby would need assistance from a nurse like Fiona but that doesn't look to be the case. The authorities are still keeping an eye on developments. “We’re not sure if nursing has occurred yet because the water is murky. It’s Bibi’s first time nursing, since Fiona had to be cared for by the hippo staff, so we’re keeping a close eye on them to make sure we don’t need to step in,” said Gorsuch.
The baby is yet to be named said zoo authorities. Gorsuch confirmed Bibi and the baby would spend the next two weeks bonding, away from the eyes of the public. "A female would take her newborn away from the bloat for about that amount of time in the wild, and we try to give Bibi the choice to do what feels natural to her," said Gorsuch. The zoo has already been preparing for Bibi to be separated from her mother for a while, as she nurses her new baby. Fiona and another resident hippo, Tucker, are now hanging out on their own. "Keepers have been separating them from Bibi periodically over the past weeks to get them used to being a duo," the zoo wrote. "They're so comfortable with each other now that 2000-pound Fiona has been seen napping on 4500-pound Tucker." Tucker, the new calf's father, arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo in September 2021 by way of the San Francisco Zoo, and Bibi and Tucker bred in December 2021, according to WWLT 5.
The Cincinnati Zoo said its animal care team will take photos and videos of the baby and Bibi but without disturbing them. Visitors to the zoo can meanwhile observe the zoo's famous hippos, 19-year-old Tucker and Fiona. The Cincinnati Zoo authorities were informed on April 1 that Bibi was pregnant but assumed the hippo team was pulling a prank, they joked. "Right around April Fool’s Day earlier this year, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden staff members were informed that 23-year-old hippo Bibi was pregnant. Since she was on birth control, most assumed that the news was a joke! The appearance of a healthy, full-term hippo baby last night around 10 p.m. confirms that a) the hippo team was not joking, and b) baby hippos are adorable!" they wrote.
Cover image source: Cincinnati zoo