Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s celebrity hippo, is 3 years old today — and everyone is invited to celebrate her birthday.
“Fiona won the hearts of Cincinnatians when she fought to survive after being born six weeks early and terribly underweight,” Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo director, said in a news release. “Three years later, people all over the world are still crazy about this normal, healthy hippo!”
>>BEHIND-THE-SCENES PHOTO SHOOT: Take a look at what Fiona is up to after hours
Fiona was cared for around the clock by a team of Cincinnati Zoo caregivers, with some emergency assistance from Cincinnati Children’s.
“The outpouring of love for this little hippo was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Maynard said. “It’s astounding that it hasn’t died down three years later! She’s got fans all over the world.”
Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of mammals and the coach of #TeamFiona, recalls the day Fiona was born.
“That day three years ago is both a blur and a memory that’s etched in my mind,” she said. “I’ll never forget walking into the hippo barn and seeing this tiny, slimy, thing on the ground next to Bibi (her mom). We were shocked that it was alive and spent the next several months focused on keeping it (her) that way!”
There has been Fiona-themed birthday fun in Cincinnati and beyond all week. Here are some ways to celebrate.
• Listermann Brewing Company is selling Team Fiona beer, a New England IPA, at their brewery, 1621 Dana Ave., Cincinnati.
• Rookwood Pottery and Graeter’s Ice Cream Fiona Party: Graeter’s commissioned Rookwood to create additional Fiona ice cream bowls and release them on Jan. 25 from 9:30 - 4 p.m. at Rookwood’s flagship store at 1920 Race St. in Cincinnati. Graeter’s will be serving Chunky Hippo ice cream, also available in stores, and birthday cake during the event.
• A new book, “Fiona, It’s Bedtime,” is available to pre-order.
• Rally House will sell a new Fiona shirt in all greater Cincinnati locations, Rookwood, Crestview Town Center, Florence, Voice of America and West Chester.
• Children’s entertainer Zak Morgan has released a Fiona music video featuring the Cincinnati Pops, Thane Maynard and more.
• Fiona’s Blend Thirsty Thirsty Hippo will be available at all Coffee Emporium locations
Fiona fans and concerned citizens can purchase a shirt that will support Australian wildlife. The Zoo and Cincy Shirts have teamed up to help Fiona’s friends down under.
All proceeds from the sale of a custom T-shirt by artist Loren Long, featuring Fiona and Australian wildlife will be sent to Zoos Victoria to help them care for koalas, kangaroos and other animals that are suffering from the brushfires raging through their homes. The shirts cost $25.
Click here to purchase – available now through Jan. 31. The shirts also are vailable in Cincy Shirts stores and the Zoo Shop. The Zoo will add $5,000 to the total raised.