CINCINNATI — Fiona the hippo is going to become a big sister.
After dropping several pregnancy hints on social media, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden announced Monday that Fiona’s mom, Bibi, is expected to give birth later this year.
Eric Byrd, the manager of the zoo’s Africa team said they are excited but also nervous.
“As most people know, Bibi’s first baby, Fiona, was born six weeks premature and wouldn’t have survived without the intervention of her human caregivers,” Byrd said. “We are hoping for a full-term pregnancy and will be doing everything we can to support Bibi.”
According to the zoo, reproductive physiologists are working with the hippo team and have started Bibi on hormone supplements and will also perform regular ultrasounds to monitor the growth and health of the baby.
The zoo says the 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.
“We weren’t planning to welcome a baby this soon, but nature found a way and ignored our calendar,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, Christina Gorsuch. “Most forms of contraception, in hippos or humans, is not 100% reliable. The dose that was previously effective for Bibi did not prevent pregnancy this time.”