Fiona gets a sibling: Baby hippo born at Cincinnati Zoo

The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is celebrating the birth of a full-term hippopotamus that is a sibling to Fiona, who became a global celebrity when she was born prematurely in 2017.

The baby hippo was born Wednesday night.

Bibi and the new baby hippo, yet to be named, are seen at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Fiona's sibling was born at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

“This new calf weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking,” said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal care in a news release.

Staff at Cincinnati Zoo discovered the calf’s mother, 23-year-old Bibi, was pregnant around April Fool’s Day. It came as a surprise because Bibi was on birth control.

“Bibi and the baby, yet to be named, will spend the next two weeks bonding behind the scenes,” said Gorsuch. “A female would take her newborn away from the bloat for about that amount of time in the wild, and we try to give Bibi the choice to do what feels natural to her.”

Bibi's first baby, Fiona, only weighed 29 pounds (13 kilograms) when she was born six weeks premature and wasn’t able to stand on her own. Fiona now weighs 2,000 pounds, the zoo said.

The zoo saw an increase in visitors and social media views after Fiona's birth. Some animal rights groups criticized it for marketing a captive animal.

Fiona, a Nile hippopotamus, plays with her mother Bibi, right, in their enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in 2017. Born six weeks prematurely at 29 pounds, well below the common 50-100 pound range, and required nonstop critical care by zookeepers to ensure her survival.