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Years after being born premature, Fiona still greets care team in a special way each day

By Emily Sanderson

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    CINCINNATI (WLWT) — Cincinnati Zoo’s beloved hippo is turning six years old Tuesday.

Born six weeks premature at the Cincinnati Zoo on Jan. 24, 2017, Fiona weighed only 29 pounds at birth — 25 pounds less than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species. She survived because of her animal care team’s tireless efforts to save her, and has inspired many to care about her species and wildlife.

Since then, she has grown into a healthy normal hippo, now weighing in at 2,266 pounds.

While she’s growing into a more independent and mature hippo, her keepers say she will always have a bond with her care team.

“Something that’s so special to her to me is you’ll hear the hippos vocalize and greet each other, it’s a snorting out their nostrils. Fiona is the only hippo that will greet the keepers in that way. She’ll come up to the barrier that separates them, and she’ll say hi and will get her breakfast. It’s really special that she shares that bond with her keepers,” Zookeeper Mark Tewes said.

Fiona is celebrating her birthday Tuesday. Zoo officials said while they won’t be able to celebrate in person due to winter weather, they will be hosting a virtual celebration.

Fiona will, of course, be presented with a birthday cake fit for a queen. The zoo will livestream the birthday event on its Facebook page.

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