Baby hippo watch: Cincinnati Zoo says Bibi could give birth anytime

Fiona the hippo and her mother, Bibi – possibly the most charismatic Cincinnatians ever – got off on the right foot with their new roommate, Tucker in 2021. WCPO

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Fiona the hippo and her mother, Bibi – possibly the most charismatic Cincinnatians ever – got off on the right foot with their new roommate, Tucker in 2021. WCPO

Fiona the beloved hippo could become a big sister anytime now.

Bibi the hippopotamus chose to stay inside again Wednesday and is demonstrating signs that she may be going into labor soon with her second calf, keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden said during a noon Facebook Live while feeding lettuce to Fiona.

“At this point we can’t say she’s in active labor but we do think she’s getting closer to that,” one staff member said.

The volunteer observer team keeps an eye on Bibi by video stream from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. — the hours the zoo is closed.

She has been in the indoor hippo pool resting and getting comfortable while Fiona and father-to-be Tucker have been outside.

Bibi’s due date is Aug. 15, but she is within a 30-day window that is typical for hippos to give birth.

Calves born full term, after eight months gestation, can weigh between 50 and 100 pounds. Fiona, who was six weeks premature, weighed 29 pounds at birth.

Hippos generally give birth in the water, though Bibi gave birth to Fiona on land. Also, new hippo moms will spend between two weeks and a couple months alone with their calf before returning to the rest of the group, zoo staff said.

While Bibi weighs more than 3,000 pounds, she needs the same ultrasound scans human moms need. The calf now is so large that it is beyond the scope of the ultrasound to measure. Zoo staff in July reported that the calf had already grown larger than Fiona’s 29 pounds at birth.

Veterinarian Julie Barnes took WCPO through the process with about eight weeks to go in Bibi’s pregnancy.

The care team trained the mama hippo to lean against a railing while eating romaine lettuce. Barnes then can swoop in with an ultrasound wand.

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Fiona's mom, Bibi, is on "birth watch" at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Fiona's mom, Bibi, is on "birth watch" at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

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Fiona's mom, Bibi, is on "birth watch" at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

“It’s amazing,” Barnes said. “Not many people can say they’ve ultrasounded a hippo.”

Because the country’s favorite hippo had a difficult early life, the zoo is doing everything it can to make sure Bibi’s second baby is born healthy and happy. When the calf arrives, Barnes said they’ll finally get to breathe.

“And my gosh, we’re gonna all have a celebration after that — as will the rest of Cincinnati, I’m sure,” said Barnes.

Fiona, Bibi and male hippo Tucker can all be found at Hippo Cove at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

WCPO staff contributed to this report. WCPO is a content partner of Cox First Media.

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