After a year that saw her joyously welcome her new baby brother Fritz, Fiona – Cincinnati Zoo’s superstar hippo – celebrated her sixth birthday with a cake to match the occasion.
The oft-viral Nile hippo – who has over 17,000 followers on Instagram – enjoyed a birthday cake made out of frozen fruits and whipped yogurt icing.
She starts on the outside with some of the cake dressing, before diving right in and devouring the rest as onlookers sing ‘Happy Birthday.’
At six, Fiona is now in the age range – four to seven – when female hippos are considered mature.
After a year that saw her joyously welcome her new baby brother Fritz, Fiona – the Cincinnati Zoo’s superstar hippo – celebrated her sixth birthday with a cake to match the occasion
Mark Tewes, the Cincinnati Zookeeper, told WMUR: ‘We are seeing Fiona come into her maturity as an adult hippo.’
However, the cake may help achieve one of Tewes and the zoo’s goals for the hippo this year.
‘She’s pretty much just a normal hippo at this point, luckily, we’re still looking for her to gain a little bit of weight, she’s still kind of at the smaller end.’
Fiona is believed to be the smallest Nile hippo ever to survive. She became a global celebrity after she was born on January 24, 2017, weighing in at just 29lb.
That is well below the average birth weight range of 55 to 120 pounds.
Speaking in 2020, Cincinnati Zoo director Thayne Maynard said: ‘Fiona won the hearts of Cincinnatians when she fought to survive after being born six weeks early and terribly underweight.
‘Three years later, people all over the world are still crazy about this normal, healthy hippo.’
The oft-viral Nile hippo – who has over 17,000 followers on Instagram – enjoyed a birthday cake made out of frozen fruits and whipped yogurt icing
She starts on the outside with some of the cake dressing, before diving right in and devouring the rest as onlookers sing ‘Happy Birthday’
Fiona became a viral superstar when she was born in 2017
He said: ‘She has taught us a lot.’
A zoo staffer hand-milked her mother Bibi, and Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington helped develop a special formula. Nurses from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital were enlisted to put in a hippo IV.
He continued: ‘We were a nervous wreck every day.’
The zoo has released a book about Fiona to tell children about the against-the-odds story of survival.
It also includes many hippo facts, including the fact they are herbivores, but can be dangerous to humans as they are fast and will weigh up to 5,000 pounds.
Fiona, pictured, is world famous after she survived being born six weeks premature and required groundbreaking levels of care involving nurses from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
In 2021, Fiona was caught taking an underwater nap in her tank – and snoring out bubbles
He added: ‘Part of the zoo’s mission is public education. (The book) is reaching kids and families with a message of hope … never giving up.’
In 2022, Fiona met her days-old little brother for the very first time.
Fritz was born at Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio less than a month ago, with footage posted by zookeepers showing his shiny pink skin as smooth as silk.
But older sis Fiona doesn’t seem jealous of the attention Fritz is getting from their mother Bibi.
In fact, she seems thrilled as she greets the new member of the family from inside her cage.
They were then filmed swimming together and playing outside.
The zoo’s animal care director Christina Gorsuch said: ‘This first intro went very well. [Mom] Bibi was appropriately protective of Fritz but was not aggressive toward Fiona.
‘The exposure was brief but a great first step.
[Fiona] took took her cues from her mom … and backed off when Fritz got almost close enough for a nose boop.’
‘We will continue to put Fiona, Fritz, and Bibi together for short periods until we’re confident that the three are comfortable together.
‘The next step will then be to add [father] Tucker to the mix. We don’t have an exact timeline for when that will happen.’
Last year Fiona was filmed napping underwater in her tank – and snoring out bubbles.
Hippos can close their nostrils and hold their breath for more than five minutes while submerged, even sleeping underwater.
The massive herbivores use a reflex which raises them up for a breath of air without waking up.