Fiona the hippo and her mother, Bibi – possibly the most charismatic Cincinnatians ever – got off on the right foot with their new roommate, Tucker, on Monday morning.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has been slowly introducing Tucker, an 18-year-old male hippo from San Francisco, into the Hippo Cove habitat since his arrival.
He had been kept separate from Fiona and Bibi so all three hippos would have a chance to adjust, according to zoo spokesperson Michelle Curley. The plan was to give him alone time in the indoor and outdoor hippo environments, then allow Fiona and Bibi to adjust to his smell and the idea of his presence before letting them all into the habitat together.
That was the plan Monday, when he explored the outdoor habitat for the first time. He would go solo that day while Fiona and Bibi stayed in the indoor habitat, then meet Bibi on Tuesday and Fiona on Wednesday.
“But Tucker seemed immediately at home in the outdoor pool and the girls were vocalizing from inside to express interest,” said Christina Gorsuch, the zoo’s director of animal care. “So, we followed their lead and put all three out together.”
The group “showed the behaviors that the care team wanted to see,” wrote Curley.
Hippo Cove will remain closed for a while so keepers can monitor the trio and make sure the love lasts. When it opens, Tucker will be easy to pick out — he’s the only member of the group with pink spots on his snout.
“For now, all three hippos seem to have made a positive social connection,” Gorsuch said.
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