Bibi the hippo, world’s most patient mother, celebrates 25th birthday

Bibi the hippo, the world’s most patient mother, turned 25 years old on Wednesday.

Born Feb. 7, 1999, the over-3,000-pound hippo hails from St. Louis. She now calls the Cincinnati Zoo home.

Bibi and Henry the hippo, who died in November, 2017, are the parents of the world-famous Fiona.

Bibi gave birth to Fiona on Jan. 24, 2017. She was six weeks premature, weighing only 29 pounds at birth — less than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species.

But with the help of a human care team, Fiona is now a whopping 2,461 pounds, consistent with a normal hippo her age.

Dr. Jessye Wojtusik, a reproductive biologist with the Zoo, points to an ultrasound image produced from Bibi, a Nile Hippo, left, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Bibi and Fiona have become inseparable, living side by side in the zoo’s Hippo Cove.

In 2021, the two got introduced to Tucker, an 18-year-old hippo who came to Cincinnati from San Francisco.

Tucker and Bibi bred that December, and Bibi welcomed her second hippo, Fritz, on Aug. 3, 2022.

The bloat continues to thrive, adapting to life with four in Hippo Cove.

“If Fritz nips at Fiona, sometimes she’ll turn around and nip back at him, but she’s got to be aware as Bibi is Fritz’s protector. If [Fiona] goes a little too hard at Fritz, Bibi knows when to step in, like any parent, and separate it out. So, she’ll separate them if the two get a little too serious, but nothing too crazy,” Mark Tewes, Zookeeper in the Africa Department at Cincinnati Zoo, said.


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