The newborn baby hippopotamus, a female, was not expected until March and is receiving critical care from vet and nursery staff since the premature baby was not able to stand to nurse from mom.
“We are giving her fluids and keeping her moist and warm,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Her little system is underdeveloped, and getting her to a healthy weight will be a challenge. Vets and animal staff are doing everything they can to get her through this critical time.”
— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) 24 января 2017 г.
The baby weighs 29 pounds, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for this species. The normal range is 55-120 pounds.
“She looks like a normal calf but is very, very small. Her heart and lungs sound good and she is pretty responsive to stimuli, but we aren’t sure how developed her muscles and brain are,” said Gorsuch.
“We’re hoping to get the baby to drink Bibi’s milk and other supplements from a bottle. We’ll continue to milk Bibi so we can provide these important nutrients to the baby and also stimulate production so she’s ready to nurse when the baby is strong enough to be back with mom,” said Gorsuch.
Vets and animal care staff are providing round-the-clock intensive care for the baby in close proximity to Bibi and Henry, the 35-year-old father of the calf.
The team is not sure how long it will take to get the premature calf on her feet. That developmental milestone must be reached before she can be reunited with Bibi.
This baby made history in utero when Zoo scientists captured the first ever ultrasound image of a Nile hippo fetus earlier this month, confirming that Bibi was pregnant.
Fortunately, the baby hippo is getting stronger each day:
Premature baby hippo is getting stronger thanks to nutrients she’s receiving from her mother’s milk. Read more: https://t.co/RywHq2zIcl pic.twitter.com/iENhESVNog — Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) 27 января 2017 г.
She even tries to stand on her feet:
— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) 28 января 2017 г.
Watch also her first pool experience: