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  1. #31
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    So happy to see such an improvement in Fiona!
    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by mykittysmama [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    So happy to see such an improvement in Fiona!
    Me, too, she is adorable!

  3. #33
    Senior Member Asteroids Champion, Crazy Shuttle Champion, Barb Jump Champion, Arkanoid Champion MissWasabi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maryjane [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Me, too, she is adorable!
    I want to hug her! Too bad they don't behave like puppy dogs when they get bigger.

  4. #34
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏@CincinnatiZoo 8h8 hours ago

    Fiona continues to do better with bottle feedings. She weighs 59 pounds, 30 more than when she was born! #TeamFiona #fionafix


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  5. #35
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    Keep up the good work, Fiona .

  6. #36
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Posted on February 27, 2017


    The last week has been especially exciting for #TeamFiona. We seem to have cleared the most recent set of health hurdles and are finally seeing consistent forward progress. Additionally, as our little girl feels better, the many facets of her complex personality are really starting to show! It’s especially fascinating to watch how the different elements of her personality seem to reflect the natural history of the hippopotamus.

    Even though Fiona is still technically 2 weeks premature, she has finally reached normal birth weight at just under 60 pounds. In the last week alone, she has gained 12 pounds and has shown a lot of promising progress: bottle-feeding with more consistency, taking in larger volumes per feeding, and also processing the formula without any gastric incidents. Currently, the nursery team has Fiona on a feeding schedule, offering bottles every 3 hours or so. If Fiona wakes up from a nap early before her scheduled feed time, she will often wander around her nursery space, grunting (sounding very similar to a pig) and bumping her nose into bedding, stuffed animals, caretakers and everything else within her reach in the hopes of finding a full udder.

    When it is bottle time, Fiona often crawls into the lap of the keeper, impatiently tossing her head up and back, over and over again in anticipation of the bottle. A poorly timed kiss or cuddle could easily result in a fat lip for the care team, but it’s a risk we bravely undertake in the name of conservation. After some corralling and coaxing, Fiona usually settles down, latches onto the nipple and goes into full-blown suckle mode. Baby hippos will often nurse underwater, so closing the nostrils and ears is an innate part of the suckling response. The same is true for Fiona and it is absolutely adorable to observe. She pinches her nostrils shut, tucks her ears down and back and closes her eyes, going into auto-pilot and slurping down 3 bottles in as many minutes. When she’s finished nursing, we usually see one of two responses: she will either pass out immediately, instantly engaging in “nap-mode” right in the lap of the keeper, or she will open her eyes and nose and resume the aforementioned head-tossing, sending the bottle and any leftover milk flying! Either way, she makes it pretty well known that she is officially finished eating.

    The conclusion of bottle time usually dictates the next part of Fiona’s daily routine. If she has engaged in one of her bottle and milk-tossing episodes, that’s usually a good indication that she has enough energy for some pool time! Keepers will check and adjust the temperature of her 8ft. pool and then walk Fiona from her nursery space to her aqua playground. Once in the pool, Fiona will romp, splash, dive, roll and of course, poop! She seems to enjoy the freedom and space of the larger pool and gets an opportunity to practice all of the aquatic skills she will need to have mastered before she is reunited with her parents. Pool time is when Fiona is at her most independent, but even then she frequently “checks in” with her surrogate moms for reassurance and support. One of the most interesting aspects of pool time is that it puts Fiona physically closer to Henry and Bibi who then have an opportunity to observe her safely from nearby. During one pool session, Henry bellowed and Fiona stopped everything she was doing to listen wide-eyed to her 3500-pound dad. Bibi has also come over to investigate Fiona’s pool antics, seeming to show interest in the tiniest member of the Cincinnati bloat. For now, pool time rarely lasts beyond 10-15 minutes as Fiona tires quickly and still needs a lot of rest, but as she grows in size and strength, the pool will become a more prominent part of her daily routine.

    much more at link

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    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  7. #37
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Tuesday, February 28, 2017

    Happy Fat Tuesday! Fiona weighed in at 63lbs this morning! Go #TeamFiona!


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  8. #38
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    She is just precious!

    Thanks for all the great updates, mkm .

  9. #39
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  10. #40
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 43m43 minutes ago

    Fiona's animal care staff appreciates your love and support. Jenna takes time to show Fiona some of her fan mail. #TeamFiona


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  11. #41
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Posted on March 7, 2017


    Today is Fiona’s 6-week birthday! Since Fiona was born at least 6 weeks premature, this means she has finally reached her original due date, and at over 70lbs, Fiona’s weight is now a normal birth weight for a non-premature hippo! She has shown consistent forward progress for the last couple of weeks and seems to be growing stronger everyday. At this time she is still receiving supplemental oxygen via a nasal cannula that she wears on her face whenever she is sleeping or resting, but we hope to begin weaning her off of the supplemental oxygen in the coming weeks.

    With Fiona’s recent weight gain and improved health, it’s only natural that many of us are thinking about the distant future and asking how and when Fiona might be reunited with Bibi and Henry. For this blog, I’ll do my best to fill in some of those blanks and help everyone understand a few of the next steps in little Fiona’s big journey.

    At this point, Fiona is not spending any time in direct contact with Bibi or Henry, primarily because she is still considered immunocompromised. Premature babies’ immune systems are underdeveloped and their bodies have a tougher time fighting off even minor infections. Our veterinary team is able to assess the strength of Fiona’s immune system by testing her blood for immunoglobulins, or antibodies, which are the special proteins that fight off bacteria, viruses and toxins that may enter the body and cause illness. Until Fiona’s immune system is better developed, she must be kept in a relatively sterile environment to minimize the chances of her becoming sick. Unfortunately, it would be incredibly difficult to allow Fiona to spend time with the adult hippos without also exposing her to a number of pathogens that could result in life-threatening illness. Until her immune system is strong enough to handle all the environmental pathogens, Fiona will continue to be housed in her more sterile nursery space.

    When Fiona’s immune system is strong enough to tackle a more messy world, she will be moved to a large space adjacent to the adult hippos. Our maintenance team is modifying this area to create a more preemie-friendly environment that is tailored to Fiona’s special needs. A heater complete with thermostat will allow us to keep her space warmer, which is crucially important for helping Fiona maintain her core body temperature. A custom platform with special mats and ramps can be modified regularly as we continue to step up the size and depth of Fiona’s training pools in tandem with her improving aquatic abilities. And most importantly, Fiona’s new digs will eventually allow her to safely interact nose-to-nose with Bibi and Henry through a protective barrier!

    When animals are housed next to each other but still have protective barriers separating them, it is called a “howdy” set-up. The howdy set-up allows animals to get to know each other safely and on their own terms before they live in the same exhibit or indoor space together. Howdying animals is an incredibly useful technique in the zoo world as it allows the keeper staff to observe interactions and assess whether animals will be compatible together. Howdying can be used when introducing brand new animals to each other for the first time, or it can be used to reintroduce members of a group that have been temporarily separated for medical care. Although howdying does not guarantee a harmonious union (or reunion), it is often beneficial to the process and can help keepers predict how animals will interact when finally put into a shared space.

    more at link

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    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  12. #42
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 25s25 seconds ago

    Sweet dreams. #TeamFiona


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  13. #43
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 7h7 hours ago

    Fiona Fix. Fiona is now over 80lbs! Go #TeamFiona



    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  14. #44
    Senior Member simba's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the updates. I went back and read from the beginning. She is so darn cute! I hope she gets to get back with mom and dad.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by simba [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Thanks for all the updates. I went back and read from the beginning. She is so darn cute! I hope she gets to get back with mom and dad.
    ITA, simba. I that little (getting big!) hippo .

  16. #46
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Breathing a Sigh of Relief

    March 13, 2017


    With another week down and another hurdle overcome, we are pleased to share with all of you that Fiona is no longer on supplemental oxygen! Along with her steady weight gains and increased strength and stamina, her little lungs finally seem to have caught up developmentally as well and towards the end of last week, Fiona was taken off the oxygen (hopefully) permanently. The care team could not be more thrilled to have another health hurdle behind us, but even this part of Fiona’s journey is a story worth telling.

    As many of you will likely remember from previous posts, Fiona started receiving supplemental oxygen at just eight days old. Respiratory problems are quite common among preemies as the lungs are some of the last organs to fully develop during pregnancy in the mammalian body. For a semiaquatic mammal who spends at least 2/3 of its life in water, underdeveloped lungs are an even bigger problem.

    Hippopotamus babies often enter the world via a water birth and must therefore begin holding their breath from the very moment they are born. Additionally, because the mother hippopotamus spends so much time in the water, the baby hippo is tasked with nursing underwater as well. Almost immediately after birth, the baby hippo must learn to hold its breath, dive underneath of its mother, nurse, and then come back up to the surface for air. Infant hippos can only hold their breath for roughly 30 seconds at a time, so they must repeat the dive, suckle, resurface cycle numerous times per nursing session just to receive the milk they need to survive and grow. It seems a lot to ask of a newborn, but fortunately for the hippopotamus, the dive response is a natural and already existing instinct that the baby must simply follow to survive.


    For Fiona, however, this usually vital instinct proved to be highly dangerous to her overall health. Early on, she would exhibit dive responses while resting and sleeping, and the were often terrifying for the care staff to observe. Fiona would close her nostrils (and often her eyes as well) and simply hold her breath for seconds and seconds on end. During this time we could actually see the color draining from her face, the pink skin around her eyes and mouth turning white as the tissue became hypoxic. Keeper staff would try to interrupt the dive responses by calling her name or lifting her body or head, but our efforts rarely seemed to make a difference. The episodes all ended the same way: Fiona’s little nostrils would finally burst open for exhalation and her eyes would open and roll into focus as if to say “what happened?!”. At 1 week old, these episodes would sometimes last for up to 75 seconds, more than double the 30 second breath-holding limit observed in healthy, full-term infant hippos.

    Even more troubling was the physical impact these episodes had on our weak and premature baby. Her underdeveloped lungs struggled to rid her body of the excess CO2 that would accumulate during the dive responses. The resulting build up of carbon dioxide in her blood increased its acidity, causing respiratory acidosis. If left untreated, Fiona’s overly acidic blood could cause irreversible cell damage, affecting her nervous system and resulting in coma or even death.

    As frightening as the problem was, the solution was fairly straightforward and simple: oxygen therapy. Our veterinary team decided to put Fiona on supplemental oxygen delivered via a nasal cannula that was to be worn anytime she was napping or resting. Oxygen therapy is a common treatment for respiratory acidosis and in Fiona’s case, the nasal cannula had an additional serendipitous side-effect: no more dive responses! Almost immediately upon introduction of the cannula, the length and frequency of Fiona’s inappropriate breath-holding episodes diminished greatly until they stopped altogether. The care team speculates that the placement of the nasal prong inside Fiona’s nostril actually prevented her from creating a proper seal and initiating the dive response. The end result was that Fiona’s blood pH crept back into the normal range and after weeks without an inappropriate dive response, her preemie lungs were able to catch up on their development. Vet staff continued to monitor the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in Fiona’s blood as she was successfully weaned off of the oxygen therapy late last week.

    more at link

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]








    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by mykittysmama [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Breathing a Sigh of Relief

    March 13, 2017


    With another week down and another hurdle overcome, we are pleased to share with all of you that Fiona is no longer on supplemental oxygen! Along with her steady weight gains and increased strength and stamina, her little lungs finally seem to have caught up developmentally as well and towards the end of last week, Fiona was taken off the oxygen (hopefully) permanently. The care team could not be more thrilled to have another health hurdle behind us, but even this part of Fiona’s journey is a story worth telling.

    As many of you will likely remember from previous posts, Fiona started receiving supplemental oxygen at just eight days old. Respiratory problems are quite common among preemies as the lungs are some of the last organs to fully develop during pregnancy in the mammalian body. For a semiaquatic mammal who spends at least 2/3 of its life in water, underdeveloped lungs are an even bigger problem.

    Hippopotamus babies often enter the world via a water birth and must therefore begin holding their breath from the very moment they are born. Additionally, because the mother hippopotamus spends so much time in the water, the baby hippo is tasked with nursing underwater as well. Almost immediately after birth, the baby hippo must learn to hold its breath, dive underneath of its mother, nurse, and then come back up to the surface for air. Infant hippos can only hold their breath for roughly 30 seconds at a time, so they must repeat the dive, suckle, resurface cycle numerous times per nursing session just to receive the milk they need to survive and grow. It seems a lot to ask of a newborn, but fortunately for the hippopotamus, the dive response is a natural and already existing instinct that the baby must simply follow to survive.


    For Fiona, however, this usually vital instinct proved to be highly dangerous to her overall health. Early on, she would exhibit dive responses while resting and sleeping, and the were often terrifying for the care staff to observe. Fiona would close her nostrils (and often her eyes as well) and simply hold her breath for seconds and seconds on end. During this time we could actually see the color draining from her face, the pink skin around her eyes and mouth turning white as the tissue became hypoxic. Keeper staff would try to interrupt the dive responses by calling her name or lifting her body or head, but our efforts rarely seemed to make a difference. The episodes all ended the same way: Fiona’s little nostrils would finally burst open for exhalation and her eyes would open and roll into focus as if to say “what happened?!”. At 1 week old, these episodes would sometimes last for up to 75 seconds, more than double the 30 second breath-holding limit observed in healthy, full-term infant hippos.

    Even more troubling was the physical impact these episodes had on our weak and premature baby. Her underdeveloped lungs struggled to rid her body of the excess CO2 that would accumulate during the dive responses. The resulting build up of carbon dioxide in her blood increased its acidity, causing respiratory acidosis. If left untreated, Fiona’s overly acidic blood could cause irreversible cell damage, affecting her nervous system and resulting in coma or even death.

    As frightening as the problem was, the solution was fairly straightforward and simple: oxygen therapy. Our veterinary team decided to put Fiona on supplemental oxygen delivered via a nasal cannula that was to be worn anytime she was napping or resting. Oxygen therapy is a common treatment for respiratory acidosis and in Fiona’s case, the nasal cannula had an additional serendipitous side-effect: no more dive responses! Almost immediately upon introduction of the cannula, the length and frequency of Fiona’s inappropriate breath-holding episodes diminished greatly until they stopped altogether. The care team speculates that the placement of the nasal prong inside Fiona’s nostril actually prevented her from creating a proper seal and initiating the dive response. The end result was that Fiona’s blood pH crept back into the normal range and after weeks without an inappropriate dive response, her preemie lungs were able to catch up on their development. Vet staff continued to monitor the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in Fiona’s blood as she was successfully weaned off of the oxygen therapy late last week.

    more at link

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]








    Wow! Thanks so much for posting this article, Kitty! I really like and appreciate all the info, the staff did such an awesome job with Fiona !

  18. #48
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  19. #49
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Fiona video from FB


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    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  20. #50
    Senior Member puzzler's Avatar
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    This cracked me up....

    I was looking at new posts and it said

    Dalia Dippalito and next one down was Fiona Hippo. I don't know why, but it cracked me up. It rhymes.


  21. #51
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 10m10 minutes ago

    Hungry hungry hippo! Fiona is now over 90lbs! A newborn full term hippo calf weighs between 50-110lbs #TeamFiona


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  22. #52
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 2m2 minutes ago

    Fiona now naps underwater! She comes up for air around every 15sec, but as she grows her lung capacity will increase [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  23. #53
    Administrator mykittysmama's Avatar
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo

    Fiona weighed in at 116 pounds today! Adult Nile hippos weigh an average of 3500 lbs & can crush a crocodile with their jaws! #TeamFiona


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  24. #54
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    She's getting so big and still adorable!

  25. #55
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 9h9 hours ago

    Fiona is now able to touch her mom through mesh in Bibi's neighboring stall. They were checking each other out this morning. #TeamFiona


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  26. #56
    Senior Member Asteroids Champion, Crazy Shuttle Champion, Barb Jump Champion, Arkanoid Champion MissWasabi's Avatar
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    This is so cute! Fiona loves the shower!

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissWasabi [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
    This is so cute! Fiona loves the shower!

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    What a sweetie!

  28. #58
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    Cincinnati Zoo‏ @CincinnatiZoo 23h23 hours ago

    Double chins are a good thing when you're a hippo! Fiona is up to 227 pounds today! #teamfiona – at Hippo Cove


    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

  29. #59
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    She is just sooo sweet!

  30. #60
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    “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

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