A newborn baby Nile hippopotamus arrived prematurely on Tuesday at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. According to KMSU, Henry and Bibi the Hippo’s daughter was born six weeks early; the calf was expected in March. This little girl was 29 lbs. at birth, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded weight for the Nile hippo species.
Unable to nurse or walk at birth, the calf, Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo, told KMSU, is underdeveloped, and getting her to a healthy weight “will be a challenge.”
The Cincinnati Zoo’s Facebook page reports she is “receiving around-the-clock intensive care from Zoo vets and animal care staff. Her mom, Bibi, is doing fine and, because of her experience standing still for ultrasounds, is allowing milk to be collected. Vets are adding mom’s milk to a fluid mixture that is being tube-fed to the baby. She is still too weak to stand but the nutrients she’s receiving should help her gain strength.”
The latest update from zoo staff includes a video of the baby hippo’s first bath, as well as the following statement: “Our two-day-old baby hippo, born six week early, is hanging in there. Her care team continues to give her 24-hour attention, which includes tube-feedings, vet checks and keeping her warm and moist. She is gaining some strength. This morning she got her first pool experience. Most hippos are born in the water, but they can’t actually swim. Pool time will help her build muscles and balance and maintain an optimal body temperature of 96-98 degrees.”
This little fighter is the zoo’s first Nile hippo birth in 75 years.