Born prematurely and exceptionally small two years ago at the Cincinnati Zoo, Fiona the Hippo celebrated her 2nd birthday on January 24.
Weighing just 29 pounds – about one fifth of what a normal newborn Hippo should weigh – Fiona’s story of against-all-odds survival captured the hearts of animal lovers around the world.
As Fiona’s dedicated care team helped the little Hippo overcome one health challenge after another, fans cheered Fiona’s milestones, from her first swim to her poignant introduction to her mom Bibi and later her father, Henry.
You can read the dramatic story of Fiona’s birth and preemie care here.
Now about to enter her “terrible twos,” which her care team hopes won’t be too terrible, Fiona is just like any other normal Hippo. “Fiona is remarkable for being unremarkable now,” said Cincinnati Zoo Curator of Mammals Christina Gorsuch. “She’s just like most other 2-year-old hippos, except for the fact that she’s a celebrity in Cincinnati and beyond!”
The zoo held a huge celebration for Fiona’s first birthday and a big party last month when Fiona reached 1,000 pounds. This year, due to very cold outdoor temperatures, Fiona’s birthday was held behind the scenes and live-streamed to her many fans. Fiona and Bibi (Henry passed away in late 2017) enjoyed a towering “cake” made of Fiona’s favorite fruits and vegetables embedded in ice.
Fiona has become an ambassador for her species, and her story has inspired many people to care about wildlife and the challenges faced by endangered species.
Hippos are native to Africa, and while they are not officially endangered, wild populations are in decline due to habitat loss, increased incidence of drought, and illegal hunting. With less rainfall, Hippos, who often graze on tender grasses near water, have fewer areas in which to feed. As Hippos travel farther and farther to locate suitable feeding grounds, the risk of conflict with people and wildlife increases.
See more photos of Fiona below.