Hello to this big bundle of joy!
An adorable hippo calf was just born at the Cincinnati Zoo. The baby’s mom is 23-year-old Bibi, who is also the mother of the zoo’s most famous hippo, Fiona.
The as-yet-unnamed calf was born late Wednesday night, and mom and baby are doing well.
“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,” Christina Gorsuch, the Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, said in a release. “This new calf weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking.”
It will be awhile before Fiona meets her new sibling; Bibi and her calf will be kept apart from the other hippos for at least two weeks to bond.
“A female would take her newborn away from the bloat for about that amount of time in the wild,” Gorsuch said (yes, the collective noun for hippos is “bloat”).
“We try to give Bibi the choice to do what feels natural to her,” she added.
This is Bibi’s first time nursing a calf. When Fiona was born, she was too small to nurse and was instead cared for by zoo staff members.
“We’re not sure if nursing has occurred yet because the water is murky,” Gorsuch said. “We’re keeping a close eye on them to make sure we don’t need to step in.”
When word of Bibi’s pregnancy broke earlier this year, zoo employees thought it was an April Fool’s joke because Bibi was on birth control.
However, “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!” the zoo said.
While they wait to meet their newest family member, Fiona and Bibi’s mate, 4,500-pound Tucker, have been hanging out and taking naps together in their usual outdoor habitat.
Fiona captured hearts around the world when she was born six weeks early, and several pounds underweight, in 2017. Fans of the cute hippo have celebrated her milestones over the years, from taking her first steps and celebrating her first birthday to the exciting moment last month when she finally weighed in at more than 2,000 pounds.