Cincinnati Zoo celebrates Fiona’s 4th birthday

A pandemic couldn’t stop the birthday celebration for the beloved hippo, Fiona.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden hosted the four-year-old hippo’s birthday virtually today with an online fundraiser “Float4Fiona.”

Those that tuned in could purchase an apple to be placed in the water for Fiona, the participants whose apples bob to the top first had the chance to win a prize.

The prizes included, an experience behind-the-scenes hippo encounter or a virtual hippo chat with a custom-made Hippo Kiss painting. Second, third and fourth-place winners could receive a limited-edition Fiona kiss print. Three lucky guests will also have the chance to meet the famous Fiona. View the winners here.

The zoo posted the celebration to social media for fans to follow along.

“We can’t invite people here to witness the race, but we will stream it live on Facebook and announce the winners as the apples cross the finish line,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard in a post on the zoo’s website. “Since she is the sweetheart of the city, several Zoo partners are offering Fiona-themed goodies to celebrate her birthday.”

All of the proceeds from the event will go to the Zoo’s Emergency Operating Fund, which was established last year to keep the zoo afloat amid shutdowns created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fiona, weighing only 29 pounds at birth — 25 pounds less than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species — became a national sensation for her remarkable survival story. Since her birth, visitors of the Cincinnati Zoo have followed her story and fallen in love with the hippo, who has become one of the most charismatic icons of the zoo.

Now, weighing more than 1,500 pounds, Fiona the hippo is healthier than ever and officially approaching the hippo equivalent of her teenage years. In fact, Fiona has been receiving weekly love notes recently from Timothy, a 3-year-old hippo from San Antonio, on Facebook.

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