About a year ago, something remarkable happened at the Cincinnati Zoo. A tiny hippopotamus was born six weeks premature at 29 pounds (most baby hippos weigh between 55 and 120 pounds at birth) on Jan. 24. Animal lovers around the world were transfixed by the effort to keep her alive. They craved videos of her first steps and silly antics in the water. The hippo quickly garnered rock star status, and like Cher or Madonna, she needs only one name: Fiona.
On a recent day, the weather in Cincinnati topped 60 degrees. That's important because it must be at least 50 degrees for the zoo's hippopotamuses to be on public display in their outdoor enclosure, Hippo Cove. It's the most popular spot at the zoo. There are parents with young children, adults of all ages and lots of oohing and awing when Fiona floats up to the long, underwater viewing glass and comes nose to nose with fans and cameras.
She weighs in at 650 pounds now. Someday she is going to be closer to 3,000 pounds.
People say they love her wiggly ears, the distinctive roll of fat around her neck and her playful nature.