Cincinnati Zoo's Prematurely Born Hippo Has a Splashing Good Time

Fiona, the prematurely born hippopotamus at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, continues to grow and become more independent as the zoo staff considers her future.

The zoo on Thursday, March 23, released a video showing Fiona playing in her pool and comfortably using the ramp installed to help her climb in and out of the water. Water play is an important part of her daily exercise, the zoo said.

On Wednesday, the zoo posted footage illustrating how Fiona’s interaction with humans may change as she continues to grow. She has created a bond with her care team, but the care team will need to consider how to handle some behaviors as she gains more weight.

Some interactions are already difficult, since she weighs more than 100 pounds, according to the blog post. In the future, the staff will need to create a protective barrier space with Fiona as they do with the zoo’s other hippos.

“So even though Fiona has been sharing space with the keepers so far (in “free contact”), we will eventually come to a point when Fiona must be managed via protected contact, just like her adult counterparts,” the blog post said. “We do not have a predetermined date or even a set size that Fiona must reach before the protected contact is established, but with Fiona’s improved health and rapid growth, it will likely be sooner rather than later.”

Fiona topped 100 pounds earlier this week, after being born six weeks early in January at 29 pounds. The normal birth weight of a hippo is 55-120 pounds.

A version without music can be downloaded via the link. Credit: YouTube/Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens via Storyful