Hippo Blog #10: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Posted July 28, 2017 by Wendy Rice
Bibi watching over Fiona as she wakes up!

Fiona is spending nearly 24 hours a day with mom Bibi now! Overnight she and Bibi are together but separated from Henry, though they still have howdy access to each other so they can all get nose-to-nose. Separating overnight ensures that the adult hippos have plenty of time to eat their diet items without getting into fights or someone (Bibi) hogging everything and gaining a bunch of weight.

At this time, care staff is still interacting with Fiona regularly since she is still taking bottles 3 times a day. During those times, we ask her to shift into a separate holding space from the adults and offer her bottles from the other side of the safety bollards (so we aren’t sharing space with her). When she’s finished with the bottles, we spend a little time trying to convince her to eat her fruits (banana and apple) and veggies (lettuce and hay) and her grain. These solid foods will be her “grown up” diet when she is older and off the bottles, hopefully in the next couple of months or so).

She still seems to enjoy interacting with us but has definitely learned that she is a hippo and prefers to spend her time with Bibi and Henry. At this point, we rarely share space with her anymore as there is not often a need and both Fiona and our care team need to understand that at this point in our relationship, it’s just better for everyone if there are safety barriers in place between us. At 400+lbs, it’s very easy for Fiona to inflict injury, even accidentally, so we don’t want to put our team or Fiona in a position where someone could get hurt unnecessarily.

One other interaction we are trying to maintain with Fiona that should be beneficial as she gets older is to make sure she remains comfortable with touch (especially in her mouth!) so we are still giving her mouth massages and asking her to open up wide so we can see her dental development.