Fiona the Premature Hippo Healing at Zoo’s NICU

Fiona, a hippo born six weeks prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo -- a momentous occasion considering it was the first hippo birth at the zoo in 75 years -- is healing well, with NICU workers chronicling her journey every step of the way.

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Cincinnati Zoo
The baby hippo had a little more energy Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, and began some suckling, which is important for getting her mother's milk. Her round-the-clock caregivers got a package from the preemie team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, that included "signed superhero capes, a pre-filled baby book, a stuffed hippo, a beautiful note and much more."
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Cincinnati Zoo
Welcome to the world, baby hippo! The Nile hippo calf was born six weeks prematurely Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. She went right into the NICU. Bibi, the calf's mother, was doing fine. Vets were able to gather milk from her as she was used to standing still for ultrasounds.
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Cincinnati Zoo
Time for water aerobics!nOn Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, the hippo calf was working on her fitness. She made progress, and was able to stand in the water briefly without the use of the noodles.
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Cincinnati Zoo
The week-old calf's wellness check didn't go quite as planned Monday, January 30, 2017. They noticed her levels were off and inserted an IV for fluids. "She has been gaining weight steadily since she was born, on January 24, but did not gain any weight since yesterday," caregivers said.
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Cincinnati Zoo
She gets a name! On Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, the Cincinatti Zoo named the week-old hippo calf Fiona, which means "fair." “Even though Fiona’s not out of the woods yet, every baby needs a name and her animal care team thought the name was a perfect fit for their “fair” little girl,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “They have been with her 24 hours a day and think this name suits her personality."
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Cincinnati Zoo
The baby hippo Fiona, born prematurely, had a little more energy Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, and began some suckling, which is important for getting her mother's milk.
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Cincinnati Zoo
Her round-the-clock caregivers got a package from the preemie team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
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Cincinnati Zoo
The package included "signed superhero capes, a pre-filled baby book, a stuffed hippo, a beautiful note and much more."
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Cincinnati Zoo
Fiona was having a bit of trouble Friday, February 3, 2017. Her suckling was weak, so caregivers fed her milk via tubes. Her energy was low before the feeding, so they provided her milk through the tube every few hours.
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Cincinnati Zoo
Time for cuddles! On Saturday, February 4, 2017, Fiona and a caregiver had chest-to-chest contact to regulate her oxygen intake. They do this so Fiona can feel what normal breathing is like. Her lungs are still premature, and absorb CO2 when she holds her breath -- a dive reflex. That makes oxygen levels dip.
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Cincinnati Zoo
Fiona, who has been receiving around-the-clock care, is the first Nile hippo born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 75 years. She took her steps!
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West Coast Angel Gowns
Fiona was up to almost 37 pounds by Monday morning, the zoo said Feb. 6, 2017.
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Cincinnati Zoo
EMPTY_CAPTION"Fiona had another good night and drank more from her bottle this afternoon than she has to date. She is now able to suckle both in and out of the water and is gaining weight," the zoo said.
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Cincinnati Zoo
It's important for the "river horse" to gain weight after her premature birth because she was on the low end of a normal birth weight of 55 to 120 pounds for a Nile hippo.
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Cincinnati Zoo
It's important for the "river horse" to gain weight after her premature birth because she's on the low end of a normal birth weight of 55 to 120 pounds for a Nile hippo.nFor more on Fiona's story, follow her journey here.
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