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Henry the Hippo dies at Cincinnati Zoo

In this July 11 file photo provided by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Fiona, a baby Nile hippopotamus, born prematurely in January, swims outside for the first time with her father Henry, right, as her mother Bibi, left, watches in the pool of the zoo's Hippo Cove exhibit in Cincinnati.
In this July 11 file photo provided by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Fiona, a baby Nile hippopotamus, born prematurely in January, swims outside for the first time with her father Henry, right, as her mother Bibi, left, watches in the pool of the zoo's Hippo Cove exhibit in Cincinnati. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden via AP, File

The Cincinnati Zoo announced Tuesday that its beloved hippo Henry has died.

Henry, who is the father of popular Fiona, had a physical exam Tuesday morning and the vet determined that his quality of life would not improve, the zoo said in a Facebook post.

It made the decision Tuesday to humanely euthanize him, the zoo stated.

“After watching Fiona fight, defy the odds and literally make history, it feels especially unfair and defeating to have to accept this outcome for Henry. While our time with him has been short in quantity, no one can deny that his quality of life before becoming ill was exceptional.

“From meeting, bonding and breeding with his mate Bibi, to becoming a father to charismatic and spirited Fiona, Henry’s days in Cincinnati were filled with sunshine, watermelons, waterfalls and the highest quality of care that can be provided to any animal,” said Wendy Rice, Africa Head Keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The 36-year-old hippo has been sick since July, according a blog post Monday from Rice. He had lost hundreds of pounds since he stopped eating in July.

“Sometimes he would sample a food item and go as far as chewing it up, only to spit it out on the floor instead of swallowing it,” Rice said Monday.

Just like Fiona, who was born prematurely in January and overcame health scares, Henry fought his ill health and improved by August and September.

But in October, Henry’s symptoms returned. Rice found out that Henry was fighting a serious infection and his kidneys were shutting down, she wrote in her blog post.

“The median life expectancy for male Nile hippos is 35. At 36 years old, our sweet Henry hippo is already in his golden years, and despite our best efforts, his health and quality of life continue to decrease each day,” Rice said Monday, a day before he was euthanized.

Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s famous 4-month-old hippo calf, has started to explore the outdoor habitat at Hippo Cove after hours. She is not yet ready for her public debut but is getting comfortable in the outdoor environment is a st

Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson

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