Premature hippo calf gaining strength at Cincinnati Zoo

CINCINNATI -- The baby Nile hippo born prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo was in stable condition Wednesday, according to zoo communications director Michelle Curley. 

The calf, who was born two months early and at less than half the weight of a typical hippopotamus, has received round-the-clock intensive care from zoo veterinarians and staff since her birth.

Although her heart and lungs appear healthy and she responds to outside stimuli, according to curator of mammals Christina Gorsuch, staff are unsure how developed her brain and muscles might be.

Veterinarians were tube-feeding the calf with a nutrient fluid mixed with milk from her mother, 17-year-old Bibi.

"She is still too weak to stand," Michelle Curley said Wednesday. "But the nutrients she’s receiving should help her gain strength."

Bibi is healthy, Curley added, and her experience standing for ultrasounds means she can also stand still to allow staff collect milk.

The hippo calf is the first hippopotamus born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 75 years.

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