A baby hippo has made an early arrival into the world after her mom, 17-year-old Bibi, gave birth early Tuesday at the Cincinnati Zoo.
The newborn girl wasn’t expected until March and wasn’t strong enough to stand and nurse from her Nile hippo mom, so she is now receiving critical care from the vet at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
“We are giving her fluids and keeping her moist and warm,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Her little system is underdeveloped, and getting her to a healthy weight will be a challenge. Vets and animal staff are doing everything they can to get her through this critical time.”
She weighs 29 pounds, which is 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for this species, according to the zoo.
"She looks like a normal calf but is very, very small. Her heart and lungs sound good and she is pretty responsive to stimuli, but we aren’t sure how developed her muscles and brain are," said Gorsuch.
When Bibi showed signs of labor late yesterday afternoon, zoo staff performed an ultrasound that showed a major shift in the baby and confirmed it was on the way. During the procedure, keepers were able to collect milk from her.
“We’re hoping to get the baby to drink Bibi’s milk and other supplements from a bottle. We’ll continue to milk Bibi so we can provide these important nutrients to the baby and also stimulate production so she’s ready to nurse when the baby is strong enough to be back with mom,” said Gorsuch.
Bibi became the first hippo ever to receive an ultrasound in January after she mated with her male companion hippo, 25-year-old Henry.