Blog post

We Need to Talk About Fiona the Hippo

July 17, 2017

If you’ve been on the internet at all over the past few months, you’ve likely come across the majestic being that is Fiona the Baby Hippo.

Fiona posing for her adoring fans
Fiona posing for her adoring fans

Fiona the Hippo is one of the newest residents of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and holy cow people love her.  I’ve cried over how flawless Fiona is more times than I care to admit and have found myself looking forward to the daily updates from the zoo more than anything else this summer. While she’s grown, I’ve began noticing that Fiona is just like us.

Fiona’s Early Days

Fiona learns to take a bottle
Fiona learns to take a bottle

Fiona was born Wednesday, January 25, 2017, six weeks before her due date and weighing only 29 pounds (the average hippo is between 55-100 pounds at birth)! The first few weeks of little Fiona’s life were quite the struggle, as she was very weak due to her small size. She had to be fed with a tube, struggled to stand for several days, and was incredibly underweight for a newborn hippo. Over the following week, Fiona gained a bit of weight, learned to support herself for small intervals of time, and began taking a bottle.  In early February, she had some issues taking in oxygen, but the care team worked around the clock to stabilize her breathing and it worked. Much like Liz Warren, Fiona persisted! On February 5, she took her first steps.

Fiona and her IV with some of the caretakers
Fiona and her IV with some of the caretakers

Soon after learning to walk, Fiona hit the 40 pound mark and got to move into a larger pool! Teething made feeding from a bottle a bit tough on the little hippo, so she had to take some of her food through tube.  Fiona was not about that tube life and got back on the bottle in a few days, though she still had to be hooked up to an IV for fluids for some time. That did not stop Fiona from being the photogenic little hippo that she loves being, though (see photo above).

One Month In

As Fiona grew, so did her fanbase. Here she is looking at some of her fan mail!
As Fiona grew, so did her fan base. Here she is looking at some of her fan mail!

By the time she was a month old, Fiona had made tremendous progress! She outgrew two pools, gained more weight, switched to larger bottles, and started working on some water tricks – like rolling! By early March, she was so large that the caregivers had some issues lifting her out of the pool, so a ramp was installed. Mid-March saw the hippo eating hay that had been pre-chewed by her mom, Bibi! By the end of March, she had hit the 100-pound mark, learned to nap underwater, and started being more independent of her human caregivers.

Getting Bigger

Fiona sassing it up for the camera
Fiona sassing it up for the camera

In April, Fiona’s sassy personality began to emerge! Daily Fiona pictures started to show fans images of a hippo coming in to herself, rather than a hippo nursing or learning to survive. Little Fiona seemed to be out of the woods, and people all over the world were living for it! She started playing with pool floats and sprinklers and began running around! In mid-April, she was bumped up to an adult pool (the same one her parents use!) in order to learn to navigate deeper waters.

Fiona and Bibi touch for the first time
Fiona and Bibi touch for the first time

Through the rest of April, Fiona continued to grow, continued eating, and continued getting to know her mom, Bibi. Bibi began showing interest in her daughter, watching the little hippo eat, nap, and move around the pool through a net like the one seen above. At the end of April, the little hippo hit 200 pounds, a HUGE mark of progress! Through the month of May, Fiona continued growing, interacting with both (!!!) parents through barriers, and becoming a better swimmer. New toys, like bubbles, cardboard, and a stuffed otter were introduced to the little hippo and her personality blossomed even more.

Mommy and Me

Learning to be part of a bloat (group of hippos)!
Learning to be part of a bloat (group of hippos)!

On June 9, Fiona was finally reunited with her mom, Bibi, with no barriers! The hippos were allowed to be in the same stall for short, supervised periods. She showed affection by licking her mom and the two began bonding. By June 15, the two were allowed to spend time in the outdoor pool together!

Splish, splash!
Splish, splash!

As the little hippo spent more and more time in the pool, she began getting more comfortable with the environment. With the help of zoo staff posing by the glass, she began learning how to be around crowds for when she makes her public debut! She also became more and more comfortable splashing around in the deep end and taking advantage of pool amenities, like the waterfall! All the while, Bibi played with her daughter for about an hour a day in the pool, teaching Fiona what it’s like to be a hippo. On June 24, her five-month mark, the little hippo got to meet with some of her lucky fans for the very first time! By the end of June, romaine lettuce was introduced to her diet and Fiona weighed in at 340 pounds.

A Relatable Hippo

As Fiona kept growing, fans began noticing a trend: Fiona is similar to us all.

Our girl loves to eat, but finds herself in the “should I eat or should I move” bind we’ve all come across at some point.

Fiona asleep in a bowl

Fiona enjoys napping in strange places, much like every college student ever.

Fiona Selfie!

She loves selfies, as we all do (even if we refuse to admit it).

Fiona and hay

Fiona LOVES food, and doesn’t care if she looks silly while eating, like all of us while eating things like wings or cupcakes.

Checking in on her Facebook

She loves checking in on her social media accounts (even if her eyesight doesn’t allow her to see the screen).

Fiona and her cardboard box

The little hippo often finds herself in strange situations, which every single person gets caught in at some point.

Fiona giving kisses

She enjoys affection and seeks it out, just like we all do.

Fiona and her parents

Fiona likes spending time with her family! Henry was introduced to the outdoor pool environment with his daughter and Bibi on July 11!

Fiona floating in the pool

Finally, she’s trying to figure this whole life thing out. We’ve all struggled with growing up, finding our place in the world, and finding balance. After being born prematurely, learning basic survival skills, finding her personality, and being a superstar, Fiona is just trying to live her little hippo life the best way possible. Fiona is an icon who we should all look up to. This little hippo knows how to live happy, and we can all learn from her.

Find Fiona

You can keep up with Fiona on Twitter and on the zoo’s blog. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see the star hippo in action at the Cincinnati Zoo, though she isn’t on a set schedule. Admirehttps://www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/ Fiona, become a fan of Fiona, and live like Fiona.

xoxo,

KB

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