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Fiona gets a sibling: Baby hippo born at Cincinnati Zoo

Fiona only weighed 29 pounds when she was born six weeks premature and wasn’t able to stand on her own. She now weighs 2,000 pounds, the Cincinnati zoo said.

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati zoo is celebrating the birth of a full-term hippopotamus that is a sibling to Fiona, who became a global celebrity when she was born prematurely in 2017.

The baby hippo was born Wednesday night.

“This new calf weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking,” said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care in a news release.

Staff at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden discovered the calf’s mother, 23-year-old Bibi, was pregnant around April Fool’s Day. It came as a surprise because Bibi was on birth control.

“Bibi and the baby, yet to be named, will spend the next two weeks bonding behind the scenes,” said Gorsuch. “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.”

Credit: Cincinnati Zoo
A full-term hippopotamus was born Wednesday night at Cincinnati Zoo. The baby is a sibling to Fiona, a hippo who became a celebrity when she was born prematurely in 2017.

Bibi's first baby, Fiona, only weighed 29 pounds (13 kilograms) when she was born six weeks premature and wasn’t able to stand on her own. Fiona now weighs 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms), the zoo said.

The zoo saw an increase in visitors and social media views after Fiona's birth. Some animal rights groups criticized it for marketing a captive animal.

Credit: AP
Fiona, a Nile Hippopotamus, eats her specialty birthday cake to celebrate turning three-years old this Friday, in her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Cincinnati.

The zoo says the new calf's father, 18-year-old Tucker, arrived at the zoo on Sept. 6, 2021 and was “enamored” with 23-year-old Bibi right away. The pair had a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program, the group responsible for managing the health and genetic diversity in the hippo population in North American zoos.

   

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