Fiona’s big adventure: Cincinnati Zoo hippo explores outdoor pool

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s popular baby hippo, met some of her admirers today.

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With cellphones and cameras rolling, Fiona took a swim Wednesday in the Hippo Cove pool at the Cincinnati Zoo.

>>Photos: Fiona at the Cincinnati Zoo

The media-only event offered a close-up look of the premature hippo that zoo officials said is not quite ready for her public debut.

Fiona’s care team is introducing her to the outdoor habitat after hours and said the goal is to have the public be able to see her in the next couple of weeks.

And when she does eventually come out during zoo hours, visitors may or may not see her. She could be napping behind a rock or opting to be inside, according to Jenna Wingate, Africa keeper and a member of Fiona’s care team.

Here’s what else the Cincinnati Zoo told us today:

When will Fiona be with her mom and dad?

She has had contact with both mom and dad and interactions have been positive. It’s important to take introductions slowly, so we can’t give an exact timeline for when they’ll be sharing the same space. Every milestone, including getting comfortable in the outdoor habitat, gets us closer to that goal.

Why were people swimming with her today?

Fiona has to propel herself a long way, 9 feet, from the bottom of the pool to the surface to breathe. A young hippo would never be alone and would have their mom or other members of the bloat nearby as they learn how to negotiate water and encounter new things. Fiona’s care team is her surrogate bloat for now and help ensure that she is safe and comfortable while utilizing the entire pool. Members of her care team are there in case she struggles.

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