Zoo Plan for Baby Hippo: More Independence, Nix Lap Naps

Fiona, baby Nile hippopotamus born prematurely Jan. 24, 2017, walks down a ramp in her enclosure Thursday at the Cincinnati Zoo.

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Zoo says its premature baby hippo, Fiona, is getting more independent and now tops 100 pounds (45.36 kilograms), meaning her days of napping on her human caretakers’ laps are dwindling.

Wendy Rice, the zoo’s head keeper of Africa, feeds a bottle to a baby Nile hippopotamus born prematurely Jan. 24, 2017, named Fiona Thursday at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Botanical Garden.

She was born at the zoo in January and weighed just 29 pounds, far below the typical weight.

The zoo says caretakers raising Fiona are beginning to scale back their time with her, leaving her alone for a few hours at night. It’s the beginning of a transition in how much contact they have as they move toward eventually integrating her into a group of hippos with her parents.

They say hippos can grow to be 3,000 pounds and are very dangerous, so at some point caretakers will begin interacting with her only from behind a protective barrier.

Fiona bathes in her enclosure Thursday at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Fiona rests her chin on the rim of a tub in her enclosure Thursday at Cincinnati Zoo.