Cincinnati Zoo announces hippo pregnancy; Fiona to be a big sister

Credit: Lynch, Gregory

Credit: Lynch, Gregory

One of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s most famous residents is going to be a big sister!

The zoo announced a fourth member is going to join its Nile hippo bloat Monday after a series of social media posts raised speculation that Bibi may be pregnant.

“The hippo team is excited and also nervous,” said Eric Byrd, manager of Cincinnati Zoo’s Africa team. “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. We are hoping for a full-term pregnancy and will be doing everything we can to support Bibi.”

On Sunday the Cincinnati Zoo posted “Happy National Siblings Day” with the image of an ultrasound. Though the post did not elaborate if Bibi was pregnant, multiple commenters began asking if Fiona was going to have a sibling.

Currently the zoo is home to Bibi, Fiona and Tucker. The 18-year-old male hippo came to Cincinnati from the San Francisco Zoo to be Bibi’s companion under recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Hippo Species Survival Plan.

“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.”

On Monday, a second post by the zoo raised even more speculation that zoo visitors could be hearing the pitter patter of another hippo. This time it was a photo of four watermelons with the caption “We’re going to need more watermelon.”

The fruit is a common snack for hippos and the Cincinnati Zoo has previously shared videos and photos of keepers feeding Fiona, Bibi and Tucker watermelon.

Bibi has started hormone supplements and reproductive physiologists at the zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife will perform regular ultrasounds to monitor the fetus’ growth and development.

The gestation for a Nile hippo is eight months according to the zoo. Bibi’s second baby and Fiona’s first sibling is expected to arrive late this summer.

In January 2017, the Cincinnati Zoo reported it captured the first ever ultrasound of a Nile hippo, confirming Bibi’s pregnancy. Weeks later, on Jan. 24, 2017, Bibi gave birth to Fiona.

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