Henry the hippo, dad of baby Fiona, dies after battling illness

Henry the hippo, the father of beloved baby hippo Fiona, has died after a months-long “battle with chronic illness,” the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden announced Tuesday.

According to the zoo, the hippo had lost hundreds of pounds while “struggling with health issues.” After an exam Oct. 31, vet staff determined that the 36-year-old hippo’s “quality of life would not improve” and they decided to “humanely euthanize him.”

“We are all so sad to lose him,” Christina Gorsuch, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said in the release. “Everyone loved him. He was a sweet, gentle giant with a big personality. He enjoyed interacting with his caregivers. “

Henry was also “smitten” with Fiona’s mom, Bibi. The two adult hippos were put together in July of 2016, and Fiona came soon after, the zoo said.

Fiona was born prematurely and she quickly attracted a global following as she fought to survive. The internet swooned when baby Fiona was introduced to her parents.

The trio spent most of the summer together playing, soaking and napping together in their outdoor habitat, according to the zoo.

“Henry was happy to have Bibi as his companion and, sooner than expected, to be in a bloat of three,” Gorsuch said in the release. “The girls will be fine as a bloat of two, but they will notice that he’s not around and may wonder why he isn’t making his contact calls.”

A full necropsy will be performed to help vets understand why Henry lost his appetite for no apparent reason, causing his health to decline, the press release said.

The median life expectancy for a Nile hippopotamus is 35 years, the zoo said.

The zoo provided several updates on Henry’s health throughout his struggle:

Henry continues to struggle with his health. Find out more in this blog from his caretaker: https://t.co/FS3aOgSiy2 pic.twitter.com/cB5VR2eghs

— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) October 30, 2017

Now we know where Fiona got her fight. Henry’s exam indicated that antibiotics & treatment seem to be working. More: https://t.co/3RkSjtuX8Y pic.twitter.com/ULNipyABz9

— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) October 20, 2017

Our vets gave Henry a thorough exam yesterday. They’re doing blood tests to learn more. We’ll post an update when we have more information. pic.twitter.com/m6ihSfbryQ

— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) October 12, 2017

He was also prominently featured in the zoo’s popular Fiona updates:

Hippos can’t technically swim but Fiona sure looks like she can do the backstroke! pic.twitter.com/wyMJyfdfUz

— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) September 25, 2017

In some photos Fiona looks huge but it’s all about perspective. She doesn’t look so big when you see her next to her 3,500 pound dad! pic.twitter.com/QqzgSb0jhy

— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) September 18, 2017