Saturday, August 5, 2017

Columbus Twins keep Mom Aurora busy

Nuniq and Neva
 When Aurora gave birth to twin cubs on November 14, 2016, at the Columbus Zoo, her job was just beginning. Now that son Nuniq and daughter Neva are almost 8 months old, they are running from one end of the yard to the other, and then diving into the pool for some splashing fun. Neva is even trying to catch the trout that swim in the deep pool.

Als Aurora am 14. November 2016 Zwillinge geboren hatte, fing der Job im Columbus Zoo gerade erst an. Jetzt, wo der Sohn Nuniq und die Tochter Neva fast 8 Monate alt sind, laufen sie von einem Ende der Anlage zum anderen  Ende und tauchen dann in den Pool um etwas Wasserspaß zu haben. Neva versucht sogar, die Forelle zu fangen, die im tiefen Pool schwimmt.

Aurora joins her cubs in play on the docks

Little Sister Neva gives Brother Nuniq a talking to

Nuniq has the stick. Neva wants it.

Brother- sister quarrel

The battle continues

Meanwhile, Mom Aurora likes to float on her back, peacefully, as she meditates

Aurora has always had a penchant for hats
Aurora still has her playful moments. She has always enjoyed putting things, toys or leaves, on her head to make a "hat." And she floats around on her back. Sometimes she catches the trout swimming by.

Aurora hat noch ihre spielerischen Momente. Sie hat es schon immer genossen, Sachen, Spielzeug oder Blätter auf den Kopf zu setzen, um  sich einen "Hut" zu machen. Und sie treibt  auf dem Rücken schwimmend. Manchmal fängt sie  dabei  auch die Forelle.

Aurora relaxes with some branches

Nuniq is a big boy, at somewhere over 200 pounds. Neva is closer to 150 pounds, but that was a couple of weeks ago. Both are growing fast. It is easy to tell them apart most of the time, for brother is so much bigger, and their faces are very different.

Nuniq ist ein großer Junge, irgendwo um die  200 Pfund. Neva ist nahe an 150 Pfund, aber das war schon vor ein paar Wochen. Beide  Jungtiere wachsen schnell. Es ist leicht, sie die meiste Zeit auseinander zu halten, denn der Bruder ist so viel größer, und ihre Gesichter sind sehr verschieden.

Neva and Nuniq
 Their half-sister Amelia Gray is about 180 pounds, but the three cubs are never together. The zoo rotates the two families. One day it is Anana and her daughter, and the next it is Aurora and the twins. Sadly, the father of all three cubs, Nanuq, died a few months ago from complications from old age. The boy cub was given the name Nuniq in honor of his father, a variation on a traditional name for polar bears.

Ihre Halbschwester Amelia Grey ist etwa 180 Pfund, aber die drei Jungtiere sind nie zusammen. Der Zoo wechselt  die Anlage mit den  beiden Familien. Ein Tag ist es Anana und ihre Tochter, und am  nächsten Tag ist  es dann Aurora und die Zwillinge. Traurig, der Vater aller drei Jungen, Nanuq, starb vor ein paar Monaten wegen Komplikationen wegen des Alters. Das männliche Jungtier erhielt den Namen Nuniq zu Ehren seines Vaters, eine Variation eines traditionellen Namens für Eisbären.

Aurora plays with one of her children


Aurora's twin sister Anana, who gave birth a few days before Aurora, just has daughter Amelia Gray to watch, but that means Mom has to be a playmate too. On the other hand, Aurora is primarily watching the two cubs play together. Still, she sometimes joins in the play.

Aurora's Zwillingsschwester Anana, die einige Tage vor Aurora geboren hatte, muss sich nur  um Tochter Amelia Grey kümmern, aber das heißt auch, dass Mama  ebenso ein Spielkamerad sein muss. Auf der anderen Seite beobachtet Aurora vor allem die beiden Jungtiere, die zusammen spielen. Dennoch kommt sie manchmal in das Spiel der beiden hinzu.
Aurora settles down to nurse her cubs
Sometimes the cubs stop for a bit to rest and to nurse, but soon they are at full charge again.

Manchmal stoppen die Jungtiere ein bisschen, um sich auszuruhen und zu pflegen, aber bald sind sie wieder voll aufgeladen.

Mother and children

After lunch, when the kids are off playing, Aurora love to munch on branches


Mom takes it somewhere safe

They have toys, but they seem to like playing with leaves and sticks better. A favorite game is to steal the stick from the other cub, and try to keep it. Click on the link below to see the video:

Video: twins at play

 Neva likes playing with the fish too. She is much better at catching trout than her brother.

Neva findet auch Gefallen mit dem Fisch zu spielen.Und sie ist viel geübter die Forelle zu fangen als ihr Bruder es kann.

Neva dives deep

Looking for trout

Close to the viewing glass

Watching the watchers

Although for years the keepers had been marking Aurora's paw with brown coloring to help identify which twin is which, this practice has fallen to the wayside, as the moms are now with their cubs, and never together anymore, so they can easily tell who is Aurora and who is Anana.

Obwohl die Tierpfleger Auroras Pfote mit brauner Farbe markiert hatten um die Zwillingschwestern auseinander halten zu können ist dies nun nicht mehr notwendig,da die Mütter mit ihrem Nachwuchs zusammen sind und man gut unterscheiden kann wer Aurora ist und wer  Anana ist.

Aurora and Neva

Neva still looking for trout

Getting close

There it is!

Oh, it got away!

Neva shaking off the water

Shake it off!

Nuniq watches

The twins wander over to the other side of the yard, under the boat. Nuniq finds some mud with his nose. 

Die Zwillinge sind hinüber gewandert auf die andere Seite der Anlage, unter ein Boot.Nuniq hat etwas Schlamm auf seiner Nase.

Nuniq likes mud, just like his daddy Nanuk

How about a little muddy kiss, sister?

Nuniq reflects

Cubs face off!
The adventures of Anana and her energetic daughter Amelia Gray will be shown in the next entry.

Die Abenteuer von Anana und ihrer sehr lebhaften Tochter Amelia Gray wird sich im nächsten Eintrag finden lassen.

Running off with the toy

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fiona the miracle Hippo baby

A story, not about polar bears, but about our local little star Fiona, the miracle baby hippo.

January 24, and it was a cold winter morning at the Cincinnati Zoo when 17 year old Bibi the Nile Hippo gave birth to her first baby, so premature that the wee little one was not expected to survive. This baby girl only weighed 29 pounds, and a normal newborn hippo weighs 55 pounds at  minimum, but this little one arrived six weeks early. A baby hippo born this small had never survived. She was so small and weak that she couldn't stand up to nurse.

Parents Henry and Bibi in love
The hippo habitat was turned into a preemie nursery. A regimen of 24 hour care, bottle feedings, and research in to how to raise a premature baby hippo kept the caregivers busy as they gave this little girl a name, Fiona, and some revolutionary treatments to keep her going.

Fiona in the center with her mom and dad now
Mother Bibi was patient as the staff milked her so the valuable early milk and colostrum could help build up Fiona's defenses. Fiona was given pool time early on as a way to exercise her muscles and build up her strength. As she got bigger, the zoo brought in bigger baby pools and lots of pool toys.

Medical professionals from Children's Hospital came to the zoo to help in setting up how to administer supplemental oxygen, for Fiona's preemie lungs were still underdeveloped. The caregivers also gave her fluids through IV feedings in addition to her bottles, to help Fiona over a difficult patch in early February. Fiona was a fighter, but those early weeks were touch and go at times.  

The keepers kept Fiona near her mother and father 35 year old Henry so they could see, hear and smell each other. The staff hoped one day to reunite the family, but had no idea just how this would work. Would the adult hippos realize this was their baby? Would Fiona even survive?

All the while, Fiona's fame was growing. There were daily updates on the zoo's facebook page. Local and national TV stations featured Fiona videos. There were Fiona cupcakes as a fundraiser, and T-shirts and Fiona beer. Fans from all over the world were following Fiona's journey as she struggle to survive and to thrive. Fiona news was a welcome counterbalance to all the bad news in the world. Fiona was seem as welcome ray of sunshine in a gloomy world.

Link to Zoo's Fiona Blog

Facebook photos and videos showed the milestones in Fiona's young life, and also the fun moments when she played in cardboard boxes, or fell asleep in the shower.

As Fiona got bigger, she was able to graduate to the large inside pool, with higher and higher water levels. When she was large enough and had gained the skills she needed, in early June, she was introduced to the outside pool, with the help of her keepers dressed in diving outfits to assist the little hippo in adjusting to the new experience. 

Fiona started spending some time with her mother, first through a grid, then face to face. She gradually worked up to some pool time with mom in mid June, during times the zoo was closed.

Baby Fiona in the big pool

This week, mid July, she met her father Henry face to face in the pool, and on Thursday, napped in the pool between her parents. Bibi was protective of Fiona on Thursday, nipping at Henry if he got too close.

All of the photos of Fiona here were taken on Friday, July 14.

Henry nuzzles Fiona

Fiona plays with her dad

Investigating Henry's teeth. The fish in the pool are Talapia,
 and keep the pool clean by eating all the hippo poop.

For the past few weeks, Fiona has been slowly introduced to the public, for only a short time on certain days, unannounced. This week, some have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse.

Henry on the left, and Bibi on the right, with Fiona in the middle

 I made a quick trip to the zoo on Friday afternoon, in hopes of seeing the elusive Fiona.  And there she was, napping between mom and dad in the pool, just her little bottom showing.
Fiona's little bottom was all we could see for hours

I waited and waited. One lady remarked that she came all the way from Virginia just to see Fiona, and she was so glad that Fiona was out in the pool.

Fiona playing around, Henry in the background

Eventually, Henry woke up and got out of the way, and we could all see Fiona. Soon all three hippos were moving about, and Fiona was gracefully bobbing up and down. 

Fiona underwater

Henry and Fiona 

Fiona above water. She can hold her breath for 3 minutes now.
Adults can stay under for up to 5 minutes.

And then she and Daddy Henry decided to get to know on another. Hippos use their mouths to investigate the world and communicate with other hippos, so Henry opened his mouth wide and Fiona went right in. This video of of their first such encounter. I know Fiona climbed into her mother's mouth when they first met face to face. It is natural hippo behavior to mouth each other.

Henry and Fiona

Henry was very patient and gentle with Fiona, letting her take her time in getting to know him. He held his mouth open and let her inspect as long as she wanted, sometimes below water, and sometimes above. It looked scary to the visitors, to have this little baby inside of the huge hippo's mouth, but it is perfectly natural for a hippo.

Henry and Fiona playing and getting to know each other

Hippos communicate with their mouths

Henry was very patient with Fiona

Fiona loves being with the big hippos

It looks scary, but Fiona isn't at all afraid. It is just a hippo thing

Hi, Daddy!

Video of Fiona exploring Henry's mouth

Henry and Bibi may or may not realize that this is their baby, but the treat Fiona as any hippo in a "bloat" would treat a baby hippo, with care. 

Hippos poop a lot, and here Fiona is right up close to her mother when it happens! The fish are there to eat it, and keep the pool clean.  These hippos eat 25 to 30 pounds of hay, lettuce and other vegetable matter per day. Hippo Cove also has a state of the art water filtration system.

Fiona bites her mother's behind, playfully, right after the poop incident.
There were times when they paid attention to the young hippo, but then they forgot about her and just noticed each other. Henry has always been crazy in love with Bibi since they first met a year ago when Hippo Cove first opened at the Cincinnati Zoo. The gestation period is 8 months, and Fiona's due date was in March. 

Henry and Fiona

Fiona floats along

Fiona inspects Henry's mouth

Open wide

Fiona is in awe of the big hippos

When the adults are otherwise busy, Fiona wanders off and plays on her own, sometimes going into the shallow dip of a pool in the rear of the big pool. 

Bibi and Henry paying attention to just each other

Fiona is being ignored

Mom and Day, I am here!

She seems aware of the visitors too, and swims back and forth, up and down, in front of the glass, much to the delight of her fans. After all, she was raised by humans, and loves attention from everybody.

Fiona loves the attention of visitors

Fiona at play

Fiona's pretty face

Watching the visitors
Video of Fiona bobbing up for air

Now that the family is reunited, and everything is going well, I suspect that Fiona will be on exhibit most of the time, although it is always her prerogative to stay inside if she prefers. 
Fiona is ready for a big summer

She has come a long ways in less than 6 months. She now weighs 375 pounds, and that number goes up every day. Her mother Bibi is said to be 3000 pounds, and father Henry is 4000 pounds. Fiona has inherited Henry's coloring, with pink markings on the sides of her face.

Fiona and fish

July and August will be very busy at Hippo Cove, now that Fiona has made her debut. She is truly a worldwide sensation! There are rumors about books, movies and more, starring Fiona!
Fiona is a star!