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”
Thank you for the very informative blog. We love Fiona and wish her the best life possible.
Thanks so much for keeping us informed. I’ve grown quite fond of our little girl and love all the pictures you post. My goal is to visit this summer. Keep up the good work!
Thank you so much for this update. I have been curious about Henry’s role in our sweet baby Fiona’s life thus far. Fiona is a very lucky little hippo to have such wonderful caregivers. ❤️
Thank you for the update I been watching the baby since you started the post and well Inlove her so much and so thankful for you that have been there and there now. Praying for henry and Fiona to bond and where they all can be one!! Have a bless day Team
Thank you for all the information you give us. We all have learned so much. But mostly, we have learned to LOVE Fiona and her Hippo family!
Will Henry Ever realize he is the father of Fiona or will he try to “mate” with her at some point in time which would be terrible!
Thank you so much for keeping us informed about the sweet family!!! It is very interesting to read about what you have to do with Bibi and Henri when they are with Fiona!!! I have been crazy about Fiona since you introduced her to us!! I am now crazy about hippos and giraffes!!
Omgosh!….thank you Hippo-Team! I so look forward to all the journeys this Hippo family will be taking….BTW…..I see a children’s book in the current writings…..consider that! How stinkin cool would that be? Carry on…I look forward….love to you all. Fabulous job!
There is a children’s book written by 2nd and 3rd graders about Fiona called The Hippopotamus That Didn’t Give Up! You can get it on Amazon, and proceeds go to the zoo!
Thank you so much for all the Fiona updates, I just love this baby Hippo. I have learned so much about Hippos thanks to Fiona, and now realize how very interesting they are. Who knew ? Fiona is such a sweet heart. I could quite nicely watch her and her Mom in the pool all day long. I look forwards to future updates with Bibi & Henry, and look forward to the day they all can be one family . Thank you to all the people who have cared for this little one since she was born, and who take such good care of her now while she learns to be a Hippo. I can only imagine the love, dedication an countless hours of very hard work it has taken to come this far, You are all very awesome.
Thanks for all the info and photos of our little girl and her parents. The way Henry is looking at Fiona she just may become Daddy’s Girl.
Fiona looks just like Henry while she does have some of Bibi’s traits but she’s literally looking a lot like Henry.
This answers my only question about the last few weeks—-I wondered where daddy Henry was in this equation!! Great informative post! Thank you!!
Loving the BiFi and FionaRy bonding time; thank you for sharing with all us Fiona fans!
Thank you so much for the informative update. With so much turmoil in the world, it’s such a daily bright spot to see and read about this darling little hippo beating the odds. A big thanks and God Bless to all who have helped Fiona get this far. I’m sure there were hours of tears and fears but a larger number of prayers and love coming your way, as well as for Fiona!
The key may be that – as written here – the Mother introduces the baby to the bloat. I imagine that Henry views Fiona as an interloper between himself and Bibi, not just when his precious Bibi is with Fiona but when Fiona enters his space alone. If the best part of Henry’s life is being with Bibi, perhaps when Bibi and Fiona are with Henry together, he will follow Bibi’s lead and accept Fiona. This is a challenging situation to be sure. Since Henry isn’t acting aggressively towards Fiona, perhaps he’s just grumpy that his time with Bibi is substantially reduced – he wouldn’t be the first Dad to feel slighted when a new baby receives all of Mom’s attention.
Loved your blog. It is great to hear that you all are working on building relationships with Henry and Bibi. Poor Henry, once Fiona has him wrapped around her little hippo finger, he won’t know what hit him.
Thank you so much for the update. I grew up in Cincinnati and went to zoo a couple times every year. My fondness of Fiona in part also comes my working in the NICU at University Hospital. I am now living in Seattle, and my mom has gotten me hooked on Fiona. I just can’t get enough of her!! My mom and try to see who can update the other one first. Interestingly, I had the opportunity to go the Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle, and chose not to go. I feel that the awesomeness of Cincinnati zoo cannot even compare to any other zoo. Team Fiona thank you for caring for Fiona you are outstanding!!! Thanks for updates!! I have to get my Fionaa update every morning to start my day!!
That willfulness is what helped keep Fiona alive in those early days (along with you all wonderful group of caregivers!) A little willfulness goes a long way!
The obvious Henry/Fiona mash up name is “Henna”!
I’ve alway love hippos, I want a hippopotamus for Christmas has always been my favorite, and now I feel like I’ve gotten my hippo! Thank you guys for sharing so much of Fiona with us, I feel like she’s a little bit mine! Great job to you all, and, Henry will come around!
I feel like a hovering grandmother, hanging onto every scrap of info about our darling Fiona. Thank you for your wise and dedicated care for this special hippo family. Your blogs are outstanding and give excellent insights into hippo behavior. I know you’ll keep our girl safe on her journey to total hippodum.
Love reading about Fiona and her family. I feel like she is part of my family. I’ve been following her from the beginning. Feel like a proud grandma! I just hope that I get to see them all when I get to the zoo this August or September. I just want to smother little Fiona’s face in kisses! She always looks like she is smiling. One happy little girl our Fiona.
Like everyone else I do enjoy all the updates. Fiona is adorable and has a lot of personality. I truly enjoy seeing her interact with Bibi.
What would happen if Henry did not accept her? Does that happen?
I’m still learning and asking the questions.
You guys are absolutely fabulous! Keep up the great work, showing love and dedication every day!
I really enjoy all of the Fiona updates. Please continue letting us know about her adventures.
I have so very much enjoyed watching Fiona develop and the ongoing mother-daughter bonding. Enough cannot be said in glowing terms about Team Fiona and the commitment and love put into rearing Fiona and uniting her with Bibi and, eventually, Henry. Thank you to the zoo for the equally informative and loving updates on this very special zoo family. Wishing you all the best …..
It has been such a pleasure to watch Fiona and her development as a hippo baby. The care team have been exceptional in their treatment, care and love of her and her growth. Seeing the frequent posts have been a highlight and I eagerly look forward to watch and read about Fiona, Bibi and Henry.
Thank you so much for all the information. So interesting to learn about Fiona’s development, but even more so to learn about hippo “life.”. Please keep the hippo info coming at us!
Thank you Team Fiona for your update and interesting information on Fiona and her family! I love learning about these amazing creatures! I look forward to the posts everyday! The Team at our Cincinnati Zoo have done a tremendous job on nurturing this baby hippo and reuniting her with her family! This has brought such joy to all of us! Love and blessings to all!! ❤❤
I LOVE FIONA❤️ She is the cutest thing I have ever seen. Hope to come see her soon!
Thank you so much for an amazing update! You have been so kind with your blogs and so many of us have had our eyes opened to the wonderful world of Hippos. While I have been delighted learning about a species I knew nothing about, I have developed a major respect for her keepers. I’ve learned so much about your thought process as it relates to moving forward with this family and what is needed to be successful. Kudos to everyone and congratulations for a job well done. I can’t wait to see the next chapter of baby Fiona. Thank you for your blogs and other updates. They will all be very special and essential as you document and publish this very unique situation. It will be very important as the care for Hippos change and expand over the upcoming years.
I agree with Cathy. I too am impressed by all the avenues used by Fiona’s caregivers to help her thrive, and appreciative of the time taken to include all of us in this exciting adventure by educating us and sharing photos & videos. You have made hippo history. As an academic I anticipate talks or articles on some of the challenges, but knowing how well documented Fiona’s progress has been, I can’t help but hope a documentary film is under consideration to illustrate the challenges and how they were met. Go Fiona and go Cincinnati Zoo!
How about “Henna” for Henry and Fiona?
Love this blog- love Fiona and her Mom- Dad will come along – who could resist this cute baby?
This is so exciting to have them all come together as one family. What a journey this has been to watch the growth of Fiona. Thank you Cincinnati Zoo.
Uh it’s clearly HeFi.
Bife & Hefi seems fitting!
I’m voting for HeFi ~ like Hefty, but without the “T”! Goes well together ~ BeFi & HeFi!
Love reading about the family…please, can you make the print on the blog bigger for those of us who can’t read the tiny print? Thank you!
Watch ever since she was born!!! Makes me happy to see the progress she has made!!!I will continue to watch!!!
Fiaona is so cite! She looks like she s smiling. Lv it.
Please update Fiaona s growing up.
Any more pictures of after she was born,
post them. She was so tini. The keepers must of had fun!
More pic- & thank you!
I want henry to feel better! he’s too young to die! besides, fiona wants to spend time with him as a father.
That is such a good idea, and that way the Zoo can implement the theory that Bibi will defend Fiona when Henry is out of line. From the documentaries I have seen, female hippos are quite submissive to male hippos, and they do not defend when the bloat (pack) decide to attack their young.
I love them. Fiona looks like her dad.. haha ..
Thank you so much for sharing your behind the scenes info. I was there to see the zoo, botanical garden and Fiona recently. Fiona was not out. Bibi and Henry were sleeping on each other.
I am a hippo fanatic and so have followed my Chacha closely. (My own name for Fi). She is so entertaining. I love her and wish her the best.
Keep up the great work. Loved the gardens too.