Fiona the hippo's brother officially has a name!
The Cincinnati Zoo on Monday announced the new name for their newest "spunky" social media star, born earlier this month by 23-year-old mother hippo, Bibi.
After filtering through over 90,000 name suggestions for the calf from fans, the animal care team at the Cincinnati Zoo had been between two names: Fritz and Ferguson. But on Monday, Senior Hippo Keeper Jenna Wingate announced the final decision on the TODAY show, saying that zoo officials had decided on Frtiz!
"Everyone loves an alliteration, but we didn't necessarily do that on purpose," she said on the NBC morning show, adding that "Ferguson was super cute and we all loved that as well" but that "Fritz just seemed to fit him."
Part of the reason that worked so well? It was a nod to the surprise zookeepers received when they learned that Bibi was pregnant in the first place. "Something that kind of drew us to the name Fritz was Bibi's birth control was on the Fritz and that's how this baby boy came to us," Wingate said.
It's also what the public wanted. According to a release from the zoo, when choosing between the two final names, "a whopping 223,542 votes were received, with 125,183 [56%] in favor of Fritz."
Fritz was born on Aug. 3 around 10 p.m. local time.
He was a big baby compared to big-sister Fiona, Bibi's first baby. The 5-year-old hippy famously only weighed 29 pounds when she was born six weeks premature and wasn't able to stand on her own.
"This new calf weighs at least twice as much as Fiona did and is already walking," said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo's director of animal care, in a statement. "We're not sure if nursing has occurred yet because the water is murky. It's Bibi's first time nursing, since Fiona had to be cared for by the hippo staff, so we're keeping a close eye on them to make sure we don't need to step in."
The baby hippo born earlier this month at the Cincinnati Zoo officially has a name! 🦛 pic.twitter.com/SlVb611PjM
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 15, 2022
Since then, Cincinnati zookeepers continued to monitor Bibi's new addition, revealing days later that he was a boy.
"We're just happy that the calf is healthy," Gorsuch said on Aug. 8, explaining they had kept their distance from the calf at first in order to not interfere with parental bonding. "Bibi and the baby are doing great together. They are inseparable, which is why it took almost five days to be sure about the sex."
"The sex didn't matter much to the hippo team, but it will be interesting to observe and compare the behavioral differences between a hand-raised girl and a mom-raised boy," Gorsuch added. "Will this calf be as comfortable with humans as Fiona is? Will he be less independent? Will he love cameras?"
Cincinnati Zoo Instagram
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While officials wait to find out the answers to that, Fritz has continued to bond with mom Bibi.
He's also grown a lot. "He's doing wonderful. They can grow so quickly. They can gain about 2-3 lbs. a day, so he's already over 100 lbs.," Waingate said on TODAY. "And he's really brave and curious. He's a ton of fun."
The new hippo has also still yet to meet his 2000-lb. sister Fiona and 4500-lb., 19-year-old dad Tucker, who have remained separate so the mother-son could connect.
Zoo members have access to live cams in the outdoor habitat and can watch the action in Hippo Cove from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily, the zoo previously said in a release. Plenty of hippo updates are made daily on the zoo's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube accounts.
Those will all go dark soon when the zoo starts habitat and hippo introductions begin, the zoo said on Monday.