Cincinnati Zoo Just Gained 8,000 Pounds!

Posted June 30, 2016
Bibi’s first intro to the hippo pool in Hippo Cove
Bibi’s first intro to the hippo pool in Hippo Cove

The hippos have arrived and Hippo Cove will open ahead of schedule. 

Cincinnati, OH (June 30, 2016) After a twenty-year hippo hiatus, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is three weeks away from opening Hippo Cove, a newly-constructed exhibit that features a 70,000-gallon pool and an underwater viewing area where visitors can get nose-to-nostril with the Zoo’s two hippos.

Henry, a 34-year-old male hippopotamus from Dickerson Park Zoo, and Bibi, a 17-year-old female from St. Louis Zoo, have arrived at their new home in Cincinnati and are getting acquainted with each other and their new surroundings.  With exhibit construction almost complete and hippos in place, the Zoo is opening Hippo Cove on July 21, a week earlier than expected.

Cincinnati Zoo members are invited to a sneak preview of Hippo Cove starting at 8 a.m. on July 21.  The exhibit, which features nose-to-nostril underwater views of the two Nile hippos, will open to the public at 10 a.m. that day.

“While Henry was more interested in his food upon arrival, Bibi quickly caught his eye. They regularly rest in their adjacent indoor pools with their noses touching through the gate,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “The next step will be to give them full access to each other behind the scenes and then put them together in the main exhibit pool.”

Video of final exhibit preparations.

While the hippos are busy flirting with each other, the Zoo’s horticulture team is landscaping, the facilities team is completing the hippo playground area and the aquatics team is preparing the pool.


The first residents of Hippo Cove have received a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), so hippo babies could be in the Zoo’s future.  Henry has sired several calves, but Bibi has lived with females her whole life.  Keepers are enthusiastic about her initial response to Henry.

Hippo Cove features a state-of-the-art filtration system engineered to process the 50 pounds of waste that the hippo pair will produce each day!  While some visitors will only want to watch the hippos play in the water, others will enjoy observing the filtration system in action as it works to make that water clear and clean.  The exhibit’s scenic overlook provides both opportunities.

Nile hippos, also known as river hippos or river horses, are vegetarians and can weigh as much as 8,000 pounds.  That’s about as much as Henry, who weighs about 4,000 pounds, and Bibi’s combined weight.   Males are typically much larger than females. Although hippos spend much of their day in the water, they actually can’t swim at all. They float or walk along the bottom of their pool.

On July 21, 22, 23 and 24 members will have early entry to the exhibit at 8am before the Zoo opens to the general public at 10am.