Male hippo Tucker was supposed to be introduced to his new outdoor habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo alone today, but female hippos Fiona and her mom Bibi were too excited to let that happen.
Zookeepers say 18-year-old Tucker immediately took to his new home, and although he wasn’t supposed to meet the girls until later this week, they were ready to welcome him, vocalizing from the indoor enclosure.
“We followed their lead and put all three out together,” Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, says in a release.
Zoo officials say the hippo team is very pleased with the interactions among the three, and although the habitat was closed for introductions, the public will get to see the whole family interact soon -- possibly by Wednesday.
Tucker, the “huge, dark and handsome” male Nile hippo, was transported from the San Francisco Zoo earlier this month, and keepers say he has been acclimating to his new environment since.
“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Hippo Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended that Tucker moves to Cincinnati to be Bibi’s companion and to enjoy being part of a hippo pod. If a baby is in their future, it will be way down the road before that happens,” says Gorsuch.
Gorsuch adds that while not considered endangered, Nile hippos share ecosystems with many critically endangered species, including elephants and rhinos. As an indicator species, the hippos can provide information about issues species in their native lands face.
Updates on the pod’s debut will be posted on CincinnatiZoo.org and on the Zoo’s social channels.
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