Image Credit: Cincinnati Zoo
“Encouraging news from hippo headquarters,” exclaimed the Cincinnati Zoo after their premature baby hippo had been having difficulties standing, eating, gaining weight and even breathing.
But Sunday morning, Fiona the baby hippo, had finally taken her first (somewhat hesitant) steps in this world and was in stable condition.
Fiona was delivered from her mother about six weeks prematurely on January 24th. While baby hippos typically weigh around 55 to 120 pounds, Fiona was a mere 29 pounds, and was struggling to stand or nurse by herself.
The zoo gave Fiona intensive care at all hours of the day to make sure she survived.
The zoo said they hesitated to give her a name because she was “not out of the woods yet,” but decided “every baby needs a name.”
Fiona never spent much time away from her parents, even when being cared for by zoo faculty members. When nursing, she kept close to her mother, Bibi, and her dad, Henry.
When nursing Fiona, zoo staff used a combination of Bibi’s own milk and formula, and had to work hard to teach Fiona how to nurse on her own. Fiona has since been spending time in the water with noodles to help keep her afloat, but she is working on standing on her own.
Christa Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo, says Fiona “still has a long way to go before she'll be strong enough to be reunited with her mom. She needs to learn how to nurse on her own, walk, swim and get a lot bigger."
Fiona’s struggle and determination has garnered attention from nearby caregivers, like the preemie team of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, who sent Fiona and her handlers a care package featuring “signed superhero capes, a pre-filled baby book, a stuffed hippo, a beautiful note and much more."
How adorable is little Fiona?