After struggling with health problems for several months, the Cincinnati Zoo says Henry the Hippo has died.
The zoo says keepers "determined that Henry's quality of life would not improve and made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him."
The 36-year-old Nile hippopotamus had been dealing with some kind of infection since July and lost hundreds of pounds.
"Regardless of the cause, Henry had lost too much weight to bounce back," reports veterinarian Jenny Nollman. "He was weak and starting to become disoriented. There was nothing else we could do for him."
"The blood work from Henry's last exam gave us some hope that he was on the mend, but his appetite never returned and his condition declined rapidly," says Curator of Mammals Christina Gorsuch. "Vets and his care team worked tirelessly to keep him comfortable and help him fight this illness. Nothing – antibiotics, favorite foods, extra TLC - seemed to turn his condition around."
The zoo says Henry was "smitten" with Bibi after being placed together when Hippo Cove opened in July 2016. Henry sired six calves, the last being a premature female named Fiona who has become a sensation in Cincinnati and beyond.
"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," says Africa Head Keeper Wendy Rice. "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."
Henry came to Cincinnati from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri. He'd been living by himself for 20 years. He and Bibi were paired in Cincinnati on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.
The median life expectancy for male Nile hippos is 35, according to the zoo. Approximately 125,000-148,000 remain in the wild.