Former Springfield Resident Henry the Hippo Finds True Love at Cincinnati Zoo

Jul 13, 2016

It’s been about three weeks since Henry the Hippo left Springfield’s Dickerson Park Zoo for his new home in Ohio.  He’s now happily settling into Hippo Cove, a new exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo that will open on July 21.

Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo, said, when he arrived Henry didn’t seem to mind at all that he was in a new place.

"He came right out of the crate, which Bibi the female who came the week before, it took her about 20 minutes to come out of the crate, but Henry just seemed very curious.  So, he came right out of his crate and went into the water and came out when called and ate a bunch of hay and was interacting with the keepers from the first day," she said.

The two keepers from Dickerson Park Zoo who took Henry to Ohio stayed a couple of days there to make sure Henry was settling in alright.

Gorsuch said Henry was enamored from the start with his new companion, Bibi, a female hippo from the St. Louis Zoo. 

"Not to anthropomorthize it too much, we feel like it was love at first sight with him and Bibi.  The moment he could see her he really could not take his eyes off of her," she said.

According to Gorsuch, the two can often be found sleeping together with Henry’s head resting on Bibi’s backside.

"The photographs are just adorable of the two of them.  He just looks so blissfully happy with, you know, that hippo smile--it's what it looks like, so he's resting on her back with his little smile, and he looks very content," she said.

According to Gorsuch, from the moment he laid eyes on her, Henry has been intent on trying to find a path to Bibi.  They’re kept separate at night since they’re nocturnal grazers and keepers monitor what they eat.  But even then, they can be found side by side with their noses touching through the gate that separates the indoor pool.

Gorsuch said they’re pretty optimistic baby hippos could be in the future.

Unlike at Henry's former home at the Dickerson Park Zoo, the majority of viewing at Hippo Cove is underwater.

"It's pretty fun to watch them from underneath because even Henry, being as big as he is, looks very graceful underwater, you know, they just kind of spin around and do a little water ballet in there," she said.

According to Gorsuch, residents of the Cincinnati area are excited for the opening of Hippo Cove. She said it’s been 20 years since their zoo has had hippos.