Fiona the hippo becomes big sister as Cincinnati Zoo announces birth of new calf

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Fiona the hippo becomes big sister as Cincinnati Zoo announces birth of new calf
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The Cincinnati Zoo has announced the birth of a new baby hippo, making its famous resident hippo Fiona a big sister.

The zoo shared the news of the latest addition to the hippo family in a press release on Thursday, where it revealed Fiona’s mother Bibi had given birth to a full-term calf on Wednesday night.

According to the zoo, staff members learned that 23-year-old Bibi was pregnant in April of this year. The “hippo team” noticed a behaviour change that indicated she may be in labour on 2 August.

The zoo also shared the news of the birth on social media, where it posted a video of Bibi’s newborn calf appearing to take its first steps.

“Our bloat got a little bigger last night!” the zoo wrote on Twitter. “Bibi gave birth around 10pm and all seems to be going well for mom and baby so far.”

The birth of Bibi’s newborn calf comes a few years after she gave birth six weeks prematurely to her first baby, Fiona, in 2017. When Fiona was born, she was just 29 pounds, and not able to stand on her own, according to Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care.

Gorsuch noted in the press release that the new calf “weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking”.

Following the arrival of the baby calf, Gorsuch said Bibi and the baby, who has not yet been named, will spend two weeks “bonding behind the scenes”.

“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,” she explained.

The birth also marks the first time that Bibi will be nursing, as Gorsuch noted that Fiona had been cared for by zoo staff when she was born prematurely.

“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,” she said.

Cincinnati Zoo announces birth of newborn hippo, making Fiona a big sister (Cincinnati Zoo)
Cincinnati Zoo announces birth of newborn hippo, making Fiona a big sister (Cincinnati Zoo)

While Bibi is bonding with her calf, Fiona will be spending most of her time with another resident hippo, 19-year-old Tucker, who is also the father of the new baby hippo.

“Keepers have been separating them from Bibi periodically over the past weeks to get them used to being a duo,” the zoo explained in the press release. “They’re so comfortable with each other now that 2,000-pound Fiona has been seen napping on 4,500-pound Tucker.”

The Cincinnati Zoo also noted that Bibi and her calf will not be visible to the public “right away,” but that the zoo would be sharing photos and videos of the mother and baby as long as they are able to capture them without disturbing the duo.

The press release also reminded zoo members that they have access to live cameras in the outdoor habitat, where they can watch “the action in Hippo Cove” from 8.30am to 5.30pm daily.

On social media, the news of the calf’s birth has been met with joy, with many happy to learn that Fiona had become a big sister.

“Congrats Bibi and welcome to the world little one!” one person wrote, while another said: “Fiona is officially a sister I am unwell.”

“The day I’ve been waiting for. Fiona’s baby sibling is finally here!” someone else wrote.

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