Six months ago a new life came to birth in Cincinnati (USA). She is Fiona, a hippo baby born six-months premature, that after an around-the-clock intensive care has been reunited with her family and was able to meet her parents Bibi and Harry together after 6 months. This is a new life for this Hippo cub that has become a real cute and sweet attraction for the visitors of Cincinnati Zoo, yet a real star across social media.
Her first parents were the veterinary staff of the zoo. She was too weak to stand, but the nutrients she received helped her gain strength. Hippos are born in the water, even if they can’t swim, but it is necessary for them to build muscles and maintain an optimal body temperature of 96-98 degrees. So Fiona received a 24-hour attention including giving her a controlled pool experience.
After six months of training and care, Fiona gained weight, strength, teeth and became able to play, stand by herself and keep comfortable with deep water. As her conditions were good, she gained the possibility to meet her real parents in their bigger adult pool for the first time.
The first step was to be introduced to her mum, so that Fiona could learn how to behave like a proper hippo. Fiona was hesitant to go in the pool with her mum at first, but she made some progress and got comfortable with another hippo sharing the big pool with her.
Bibi, the mother, had been very attentive to Fiona and had been staying by her side the whole time she was in the pool, swimming outside together for about an hour a day, but on no set schedule. The care team was not actually sure if Bibi was aware that Fiona was her own daughter. But what was for certain is that Bibi knew Fiona was a baby which is very important and her patient and kindness demonstrated that.
It was a slowly process, taking it one step at a time, so that Fiona could be reintroduced to her parents properly. On 3th June Fiona met her dad Henry for the first time, following the same step-by-step approach. Henri had been a father already, but the last time he shared space with a baby was around 20 years ago. Therefore, he showed some uncertainty in how to act around Fiona, as if it was his first-time dad experience…again.
But after a long process and time, on 11th July Fiona was finally reunited with her whole family. Bibi, Henry and Fiona were together, in the same pool, introduced to each other in the Hippo Cove’s outdoor pool before the Zoo opened and under the supervision of the care team. Everything went well, the operation was a success and Bibi, the mother, acted exactly how the team was hoping: intervening when Herny got too close to Fiona.
One week later, on 18th July, and after a tireless work, Fiona had finally been successfully reintroduced to both of her parents and the reunion was complete. Like many youngsters she want to play more than her parents do, so while Fiona desires to play her mother just wants to sleep.
She is spending more time in the outdoor pool now, but there is no set schedule for when she’ll be out. She has access to the indoor space at all times, so visitors may or may not see her. So if you go to Cincinnati Zoo, you may be so lucky to see the sweet reunited family spending time together, playing, swimming, sleeping and sharing love with each other.
In the meantime, you can follow the whole story of Fiona, since the beginning until now, on the Cincinnati Zoo website, or see the family spending their time together on this heart-warming video.