Cincinnati Zoo’s Preemie Hippo Is Hungry Hungry!

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For the first time in 75 years the Cincinnati Zoo has a new baby hippo but as it was born prematurely, she only weighed half as much as she should.

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The yet-unnamed calf wasn’t expected until March; therefore its birth on January 24th of 2017 was a surprise to Cincinnati Zoo staff… not to mention her 17-year-old mother Bibi and proud 35-year-old papa Henry. Zoo staff had been preparing for the blessed event for some time. Dr. Jessye Wojtusik (above, left), from the Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) began performing weekly ultrasound exams on Bibi last August.

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An ultrasound taken on January 9th (the first ultrasound image of a Nile Hippopotamus fetus ever recorded, by the way) confirmed Bibi was pregnant and a follow-up exam on January 23rd indicated the baby was on its way.

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The new calf weighed a mere 29 pounds, which sounds like a lot but really isn’t when it comes to hippos. In fact, the calf’s weight was about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for this species. Due to the calf’s early arrival, she’s too short to nurse naturally and can barely stand on her own. It’s almost certain she would not be able to survive for very long in the wild.

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