As many of you have seen from the numerous social media pics and videos, Fiona and Bibi have been doing great together! The speed and fluidity with which the two have developed their bond has been hugely beneficial to Fiona’s mental, social and physical well-being. Bibi has astounded our care team with her patience, tolerance and attentiveness towards Fiona. She has demonstrated a very real understanding that Fiona is a baby and must be interacted with and handled in a gentle way, a stark contrast to some of her interactions with Henry! Since Fiona spent so much of the beginning of her life in the care of humans, we don’t know if Bibi and Fiona understand that they are mother and daughter, however their fondness for each other cannot be denied and Bibi has definitely taken on the roll of mentor to our little hippo baby. Both genuinely seem to enjoy their mouthy and slobbery interactions, and Bibi seems intent on teaching Fiona how to behave like a proper hippo, even gently disciplining Fiona when necessary. When the two went outside together for the first time, we watched in amusement as Bibi attempted unsuccessfully to keep Fiona safely in the shallow ends of the exhibit pool, ultimately giving up and embracing Fiona’s willful independence (just like the rest of the human care team have learned to do!).
While BiFi have been getting the majority of the social media attention, there is another relationship being established quietly behind the scenes. In contrast to our initial predictions and expectations, Henry and Fiona have been having a harder time getting comfortable with one another. We have followed essentially the exact same introduction process that we used with BiFi. First Henry and Fiona were spending time next door to each other in the howdy set-up with a protective barrier in place to ensure the safety of both. The gaps between the bollards allowed the two to get nose-to-nose, sniffing, nuzzling and even licking each other to build familiarity and comfort. After several weeks of observed positive interactions during that time, we felt comfortable and ready to move on to the next step, creeping the doors open and allowing Fiona to enter Henry’s stall when she felt ready.
At this point, it feels very much like Henry is tolerant of Fiona, but he is still a little uncertain about their relationship and how they should interact with each other. Moving forward, there are a number of variables that keeper staff can adjust to see if it helps Henry and Fiona develop a more comfortable relationship, including adding Bibi to the equation and allowing all 3 to interact simultaneously. (This of course is the ultimate end goal: all 3 hippos spending the majority of their time together in a shared space.) With Bibi added to the equation, she might model appropriate interactions for Henry and make him feel more at ease about Fiona. And there’s also a chance that she will help establish the relationship between Henry and Fiona by intervening and defending Fiona if Henry is out of line. However, Henry has developed quite the codependency on Bibi over the last year, and he may not like the idea of sharing his “Bibi time” with Fiona, possibly creating even more tension between the two.
94 thoughts on “Hippo Blog #8: Family Reunions”
Wonderful blog, Wendy! This information answers so many of the questions that more uninformed guests are asking! This has been a most amazing journey! The entire staff has been doing an incredible job to smooth the way to what may be an eventual successful reunion of the family, whether or not they realize the connection!
Thank you so very much for caring for our Cincinnati bloat, family!!!! We love them an u guys are doing a terrific job with this hippo family!!!!!
We are so fortunate to have “our” zoo. Thank you for including the public into the inner workings of what is happening with Bifi and Henry. We continue to love our hippo family and all the zoo caregivers and ALL our zoo inhabitants! Can’t wait for our new baby to be born!
Thank you! I have had so many questions about Fiona and hippos. You have answered so many! Thank you for letting us learn along with you on this incredible journey. Now, I just have to be at the zoo at the right time to see this precious girl!
The amazing amount of care and diligence by the team reinforces my decision to join the Cincinnati Zoo family and participate in as many activities as possible. It is energizing as well as humbling to be even a wee part of the overall operation. Great job!
I wonder what the dynamic would be if Henry and Bibi were in one room and Fiona was in the other room, separated only by bars? Would Bibi send enough signals in her loving treatment of Fiona to send the message to Henry that she’s part of the pack??
Fiona’s caretakers have done a wonderful job and have shown the world what we already know: Our Cincinnati Zoo is world class.
So well written and everything any Fiona fan would want to know! It’s nice of you to be so giving with information, realizing the attachment the community has to her!
Great blog. So many questions answered. Thank you.
Thanks for all the wonderful comments and information about Fiona and her family!
Henry and Fiona=HeFi.
I was thinking the same! Hefi!
This name combo has my vote too!
That was my exact thought for their name!
How wonderful and exciting the blog is. Thank you so much for this awesome information. I loved all 3 of these beauties and so excited to watch and learn on their continued journey of becoming a family.
I look forward every day to your updates on Fiona and Bibi. The recent post on Fiona’s daddy was so great to read. Please keep any and all pictures coming. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for all of the information about Fiona and her family.
You all are simply amazing! I really hope I’m able to visit some day. Thank you for all you’ve done, and for sharing all of it with us! #TeamFiona.
Wow, now that is quite the surprise. I expected Henry and Fiona’s relationship to be a breeze. Poor Henry. Fiona will win his heart over just like she has everyone else.
Through this whole time I have learned so much about hippos. I look forward every day to the blog and facebook posts and pictures. Can’t wait to see this lovely family up close and personal when I visit the zoo. Please keep us updated. Thank you for all you have done so far.
I am really happy of the progress that Fiona and her parents are making. Thank you for always putting Fiona’s well being first. ☺
Love reading all about the bloat and how the introductions are going now with Henry. I think Cincinnati Zoo and the caregivers are doing a WONDERFUL job in caring for them. I wasn’t aware of just how much care goes on behind the scenes for these animals until Fiona came along. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months and feel like I “know” Fiona. Please keep the info coming. She is much loved
Great description and update! You guys are demonstrating true caring and professionalism. Fiona’s story will be an example for us all in the years to come, and it wouldn’t be possible without her team.
In today’s troubled craziness, the miracle of Fiona has been a safe haven for me to go to and enjoy the true tales of her miraculous journey. Watching her and her mom through your blogs as well as videos and photographs, has been inspiring, joy filled and leaves me wanting to come back each and every day to see how they are doing. This new journey to introduce Fiona to her dad, Henry, has me hoping that in time, they will become as comfortable together as Fiona and her mom <3 <3 Thank you for sharing all of this!!
You guys are awesome and I really appreciate this blog. My 11 year old son is in love with the hippos and looks forward to the updates everyday. Thank you so much! By the way maybe Henry just feels too old to be a daddy! 🙂
Hefi I really enjoy following your work and all the science behind it. This is really awesome! You guys are great!
Thank you for the in-depth detail of Fiona and family’s development. We are learning so much!
Thank you for keeping us well informed. Great job!
So happy to feel a part of this amazing adventure through your blog and updates on social media. Thank you so much. All animals are such a beautiful part of the world we live in
This is such wonderful information! I love the mention about giving up and embracing Fiona’s willful independence. My son was born very early and seems to have a similar agenda (his own!). I like to think its why he survived and made it home with us. I love following Fiona’s journey and am so happy she’s bonding so well with Bibi. Keep growing little hippo! #teamfiona
Thanks for the update! It’s so sweet watching the interactions between Fiona and Bibi!
Very well written Wendy. I wonder if Henry realizes that he is separated from Bibi (unlike ever before) because of Fiona and is a bit peeved. Henry has always puzzled me because he lets Bibi have her way. I wonder if this is typical male hippo behavior or if Bibi is just a dominant personality.
Thanks for the info. Again. You folks aren’t only good at managing hippos’ experiences, but people’s as well!
That said, “Fionry” is right out! Clearly, the proper construction to match “Bifi” is Hefi”!
this is wonderful news that she gets to spend time with Papa Henry……just like life, it will take awhile for him to feel comfortable with her and know that you guys are always around to help if needed. Just love this baby……just order her playing cards……. thank you to #TeamFiona for doing such a wonderful job with her…..love all the information that we get on her….don’t stop the pictures or the blog !!!
I prefer “Heona” / (Hēona) 🙂
I love following along on this journey. Thank you all!
Super work! Keep it up you are all SO APPRECIATED!!!!
Thank you, once again for all the thought, love and care given to Fiona and her Momma & Papa. Yes, we are in love with all three hippos, but watching Fiona grow has been wonderful, and makes her special! We love all the info you share and will continue to follow the progress of this “family”! We’re anxious to meet Fiona!
Thank you for taking the time to write this educational and fun blog about Fiona and her family. I have so enjoyed following Fiona since she was born and the postings began. I have prayed along with many that dear sweet Fiona would not only survive but thrive and…..prayers have been answered; God has used so professionals in many medical and animal fields plus all those people following her to accomplish what many times might have seemed impossible! I am most thankful the introduction to Mommy Bibi has gone well and so enjoy watching them interact. Now Daddy Henry takes a turn…..20 years is a long time to go without being around a youngster; he may well feel like a grandfather instead of a Daddy!!!! I pray the development of their relationship continues to go safely and smoothly and that soon all 3 are enjoying life as a proper hippo family…..what ever that might be! May God continue to bless all of the staff and volunteers that work countless hours to see a successful conclusion to Fiona’s Journey.
Thank you so much for the regular updates. I live far away in Canada, but I have learned so much. You are doing an awesome job.
Great Blog!! Thanks for the updates #teamfiona
I forgot to do my email address
Henry, like many a new dad, may be “jealous” of the attention that Bibi gives to Fiona. I am sure they will work that out.
FiHe! That might work, BiFi and FiHe…
Thank you for the care that the three hippos are getting at our zoo.. you all are an amazing team.. the updates are very informative and interesting..
It’s like introducing a new dog to the pack except on a bigger scale. Hopefully he will eventually chill out and welcome her. Thanks for the update.