Fiona the hippo is officially a big sister to a baby boy.
The Cincinnati Zoo announced the gender of the newest addition to the zoo on Aug. 8, five days after the calf’s birth.
Keepers, who are giving the calf and mom Bibi time to bond alone, say they finally were able to get a good view of the baby in order to determine the gender.
“We’re just happy that the calf is healthy. The sex didn’t matter much to the hippo team, but it will be interesting to observe and compare the behavioral differences between a hand-raised girl and a mom-raised boy,” the zoo’s director of animal care, Christina Gorsuch said in a release. “Will this calf be as comfortable with humans as Fiona is? Will he be less independent? Will he love cameras?”
Bibi, who gave birth to Fiona prematurely in 2017 at just 29 pounds, became pregnant unexpectedly (she was on birth control), after the introduction of male hippo Tucker into her habitat last year.
It was announced that Bibi was pregnant in April of this year. Her due date was Aug. 15 and keepers say she gave birth within a healthy 30-day window of the date on Aug. 3.
The zoo says they have not chosen a name for the calf yet and they are asking for suggestions from the public. Anyone can submit their suggestions online, they will be taken into consideration, and the name will be announced later this week.
“Bibi and the baby are doing great together. They are inseparable, which is why it took almost five days to be sure about the sex,” said Gorsuch. “They will continue to bond inside for another week or two. Fiona and Tucker are outside, so visitors will still be able to see hippos when they come to the Zoo.”
According to officials, hippos in the wild will isolate themselves from the others leading up to their baby's birth and after. Bibi will be kept from the others for at least two weeks and even up to a few months. The keepers say they will follow her lead on reintroduction; signs that she’s ready will include sleeping near Fiona and Tucker within her separated pin area.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is located at 3400 Vine St., Avondale. Tickets and more info: cincinnatizoo.org.