How the world fell in love with Fiona: 12 months of sassy hippo bliss

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, Fiona, a Nile hippopotamus plays in her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, in Cincinnati. The zoo said Fiona will soon eat nothing but grown-up hippo food as she’s weaned from her bottles of formula. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (WLWT) — The world has fallen in love with Fiona the hippo, and there’s no secret as to why.

Fiona turns 1 year old this month, and the entire city of Cincinnati seems to be celebrating.

Related: 5 ways to celebrate Fiona’s first birthday

Overcoming every obstacle thrown her way, Fiona is the little hippo that could.

She weighed 29 pounds when she was born on Jan. 24, 2017, at the Cincinnati Zoo. She was six weeks premature and weighed about 25 pounds less than the lowest recorded birth weight for the species.

Fast-forward 12 months, and Fiona tipped the scale at over 550 pounds – a weight consistent with a full-term hippo her age.

Cincinnati has stuck with her through the entire journey.

The world watched as a nursery team provided around-the-clock care to the little hippo.

We watched as she began enrichment programs in the pool and eventually acclimated to the deep waters of her enclosure. Our hearts burst when she was reunited with her mom, Bibi, and her father, Henry, in the big kid pool.

But tragedy struck in November, and Fiona and Bibi are now a family of two. Henry was euthanized by zoo staff after a battle with chronic illness.

Fiona’s journey has inspired the Queen City. Dozens of businesses across the city have chipped in.

From cookies adorned with Fiona’s face to T-shirts of the happy hippo family, area businesses have raised thousands of dollars for the zoo and Fiona’s care team.

The little hippo has even inspired beers and children’s books.

Her admirers stretch beyond the confines of Cincinnati. Fiona has been featured by far-flung media outlets, including USA Today and the BBC, to name a couple.

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