Accessibility links

Fiona the Hippo Turns 3 Months Old


In this April 12, 2017 photo provided by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Fiona a prematurely born hippopotamus, swims in her quarantine enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Cincinnati. (Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens

This is What’s Trending Today…

It has been a much happier spring season at Ohio’s Cincinnati Zoo than last spring.

Last May, zoo officials there shot and killed one of their gorillas, after a young child fell into its cage. Officials feared the animal would hurt the child.

The killing of the gorilla, named Harambe, led to public outrage. People across the United States -- and world -- still remember Harambe’s story.

This spring, however, zoo officials have been celebrating the birth and survival of a baby Nile hippopotamus. Her name is Fiona. She was born on January 24 – six weeks early. Her premature birth meant she had many health problems. At birth, she weighed just 13 kilograms. That is more than 10 kilograms smaller than the lowest-known birth weight for Nile hippos.

Animal experts feared Fiona would not survive.

But she did. And zoo officials have been sharing happy updates on Fiona with the public.

“She has brought everyone together,” said Jenna Wingate who takes care of African animals at the zoo. “It brings us to tears sometimes.”

Fiona turned three months old on April 24. She now weighs about 78 kilograms.

Zoo visitors will not be able to see Fiona until at least June. But many have already gotten to know her through the zoo’s blog and video updates. The videos have shown Fiona playing in a pool, learning to run, and taking a baby bottle.

In this Wednesday, April 12, 2017, photo, visitors read a sign depicting Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens' new baby hippopotamus, as they pass through the Hippo Cove exhibit.
In this Wednesday, April 12, 2017, photo, visitors read a sign depicting Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens' new baby hippopotamus, as they pass through the Hippo Cove exhibit.

Tens of millions of people have watched Fiona’s videos. Thousands have bought shirts with a picture of Fiona on them. A bakery in Cincinnati even sells special Fiona treats.

Fiona gets so many cards in the mail each day that the zoo made a special box for her letters.

To celebrate her three-month birthday on Monday, zookeepers posted updates on Fiona all day through Instagram and Snapchat stories. The “day in the life” updates have included video of Fiona taking a shower, eating several breakfasts, and playing with a bucket of ice.

Wingate, who helps take care of Fiona, thinks so many people like the young hippo because of her “underdog” story.

“It makes us really happy to know that one animal can make so many people happy and so excited and interested,” Wingate told Cincinnati’s WCPO television station.

After the death of Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo shut down its Twitter account for two months. Angry and negative comments affected zoo workers.

The strong positive response to Fiona has helped what zoo officials have called a “healing process” after Harambe.

“It’s been a very welcome thing,” Wingate said.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I'm Bruce Alpert

______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

hippopotamus –n. a very large African animal with a large head and short legs that spends most of its time in the water

premature –adj. taking place before it is supposed to

underdog –n. a person or team that is not expected to win or do well

Your opinion

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG