The Cincinnati Zoo is arranging a meet-cute for its resident mama hippo, Bibi.
A "huge, dark and handsome" male Nile hippo named Tucker was transported from the San Francisco Zoo and arrived at his new home last night.
Henry, Bibi's former mate and Fiona's dad, died in 2017 after struggling with health issues. The hope is that the 18-year-old Tucker will woo the 22-year-old Bibi and we may get some more baby hippos...eventually.
“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Hippo Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended that Tucker move 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” said Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care, Christina Gorsuch, in a release.
The zoo says Tucker weighs in at a whopping 4,500 pounds — 1,000 more than Bibi and at least 2,500 more than Fiona, who is not yet 2,000 pounds. And while he gets acquainted to his new home, he'll spend time "bonding and sharing beets, squash, melons and hay" with Bibi.
"Bibi and Tucker will get to know each other by being in close proximity in the indoor habitat before they share the same space," Gorsuch said. "After that, they will explore the outdoor habitat together. It may be a few weeks before visitors catch a glimpse of the new guy."
During that time, the 4-year-old Fiona may be separated from the two and may not be on view (the zoo says they'll post info on her whereabouts to cincinnatizoo.org).
The San Francisco Zoo says Tucker's fans enjoyed watching him play around in his pool and snack. Gorsuch said another fun thing about male hippos is how they excrete their waste.
"They spin their tails like a propeller and spray feces everywhere. It’s actually entertaining to watch but creates a big mess for keepers to take care of in the hippo barn," she said.
So we have that to look forward to.
The zoo says that while the hippo was named Tucker at birth, he was known by another name in San Francisco: Bruce, after San Francisco Giants' manager Bruce Bochy. He will readopt that moniker in Cincinnati, which happens to coincide with our own local baseball player, Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Barnhart recorded a welcome message for the hippo and said, "It's great to have another Tucker in town."
The timeline for Tucker's public debut hasn't been set yet, but the Cincinnati Zoo will post updates at cincinnatizoo.org.
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