Cincinnati Zoo's care of premature hippo attracts national attention

    Keepers talk about caring for the premature hippo which has attracted national attention (WKRC/Cincinnati Zoo)

    Zoo Babies is always one of the most popular attractions at the Cincinnati Zoo. This year, an early arrival is getting national attention. The zoo's preemie hippo calf is a mini celebrity.

    It's been three weeks since Fiona made her debut. Born six weeks early and weighing in at 29 pounds, 25 less than the lowest recorded birth weight for the species, keepers were in for a fight to keep her alive.

    Prayers, good karma, and messages from around the country flooded into the zoo. As of February 13, the zoo says this little baby girl is getting bigger and stronger every day.

    The story has made national headlines showing up on People magazine's website and CBS News among others.

    What makes this story so unique is that Fiona is one of the only known preemie hippos born in a zoo and then hand-raised.

    According to keepers, she's showing daily signs of improvement. She's spending more time in the pool, trying to swim and keep herself balanced. The baby is being cared for behind the scenes, close to her mom and dad.

    Keeper Wendy Rice explains why Fiona strikes a chord with many. "Fiona's story is one that so many families out there can relate to. Either people have had preemies themselves or they know friends or family. Anybody who's kind of been through this scenario knows the feeling that every day, you're taking it one step at a time and hoping for the best."

    A lot of people are "Team Fiona" right now. Zoo staffers say all the comments and good wishes are helping. Keepers even share them with the baby as part of her care.

    Read more about caring for Fiona on the Cincinnati Zoo's blog.

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