7 Fun Facts About Fiona and Hippos

January 24, 2019 4 Comments

Fiona the Hippo

Fiona the hippo, of course, is an international sensation. People come from all over the world to see her at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. News outlets far and wide have covered her remarkable journey and continue to do so. Here are seven fun facts about Fiona.

1. She’s the first...

She’s the first Nile hippo born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 75 years. She was the first hippo to be scanned in the womb using ultrasound. She was the first non-human patient of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, who helped nurse her to health after she was born six months premature.

2. She’s a Nile hippo

Nile hippos, also called great northern hippos, are native to Africa where they once flourished. Like other species, however, their numbers have dwindled due to illegal and unregulated hunting, poaching, and widespread loss of habitat throughout the continent. It is estimated that there between 125,000 and 148,000 hippos left in the wild.

3. Hippos are related to pigs

Fiona and other hippos are sometimes called water pigs. In 1909, scientists grouped hippos with pigs based on several factors. Their closest living relatives include whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

4. Her name was inspired by a movie character

After seeing the young hippo's ears, her caregivers were immediately reminded of the character Princess Fiona from the Shrek movie series. Interestingly, Shrek calls her “Fio,” whereas our Fiona is nicknamed “Fifi.”

5. She’s really grown!

Fiona weighed 29 pounds when she was born. Newborn hippos typically weigh between 55-125 pounds. This past December 26, she tipped the scales at 1,000 pounds. Adult female hippos generally reach a weight of about 2800 pounds.

6. She brings a lot of visitors to the zoo

In 2009, the Cincinnati Zoo drew 1.2 million visitors. It now draws close to 2 million a year. Fiona is a big part of that, as it were, but the rise can also be credited to the zoo’s recent expansion and remodeling.

7. Fiona’s extended family and Disney connection

Fiona's mom and dad, Bibi and Henry, respectively, came from two different zoos. Henry came from the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri while Bibi arrived from the St. Louis Zoo. She was born at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Growing up in there she socialized with a large number fellow hippos including several brothers, sisters, and other young hippos, before moving to the Midwest. Henry passed away in the fall of 2017 at the age of 36, which was slightly below life expectancy. If you go to Animal Kingdom and see the hippos, you might see some of Fiona’s relatives on her mom’s side.

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