Earlier this year, from February to April of 2017, over 232 million people waited in breathless anticipation for April the giraffe to give birth. When April finally popped out the 129-pound 5.75-foot baby, there were over 1.2 million people watching on the live YouTube feed. The giraffe calf was born at 9:54 a.m. EST (GMT – 5). The feed and camera were shut off on April 21st as staff thanked everyone for their support.
While the baby giraffe is exceptionally cute, if you’re missing your cute baby fix, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden are here to help you out.
If you’re wondering why you’ve heard of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, it’s because it was the site where the gorilla Harambe was shot and killed after a child fell into his enclosure. The public backlash and censure rose high enough that even presidential candidates were drawn into the fray. However, put the past behind you and focus on the present.
Fiona Comes Into the World
Three months ago, in the dreary month of January, and lost in the giraffe frenzy, a baby hippo was born prematurely. The Cincinnati Zoo named her Fiona, and she has been slowly changing public perception of the zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo has been using social media to showcase Fiona as she’s been growing, posting videos and photos of the adorable little water horse’s growth.
So relax and watch the simple joy that is a baby hippopotamus frolicking in a baby pool with pool toys.
WATCH: Fiona the hippo's water adventures continue with pool toys! pic.twitter.com/Ey7BFyEsMh
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 11, 2017
Alternatively, watch as she plays in a shower, enjoying it in a super adorable way.
WATCH: Fiona the hippo enjoying a shower is refreshingly cute! pic.twitter.com/j1Vm3BGy97
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 21, 2017
According to Jenna Wingate, one of the zookeepers who provides care for Fiona, the baby hippo has managed to bring everyone together. “It brings us to tears sometimes.”
Fiona hasn’t just been good for the Cincinnati Zoo in helping to erase the memory of Harambe, it’s also been good for them financially.
Visitors have flocked to see the baby hippo, bringing much-needed tourism dollars to the zoo. Team Fiona T-shirts and souvenirs fly off the shelves into the welcome hands of fans of the little cutie. A local bakery even has Fiona-themed cookies, with all proceeds from sales going toward offsetting Fiona’s costs of care.
Fiona is a Nile hippo, and when she was born on January 24, 2017, she only weighed 29 pounds, which is a dangerously low weight for a newborn hippo. She was also the first Nile hippopotamus to be born at the Cincinnati Zoo in over 75 years, making her birth doubly special.
What Even Are Hippos?
Lest you be drawn in by the cute videos, you should know that the cute little water horse you see weighed in at 173.5 pounds as of Friday, April 21, 2017. So while she may look adorable, she’s got a lot of heft.
— FOX19 (@FOX19) April 21, 2017
The word hippopotamus comes from the Greek words hippo and potamus, which mean horse and river respectively. The plural of hippopotamus, because the word has a Greek origin, is technically hippopotami. However, because English takes rules from every ancient language, the plurality hippopotamuses is also acceptable.
When Fiona is fully grown, she will weigh about 1,300 kilograms, or 2,870 pounds. This size makes hippos the sixth largest land mammals in the world. Adult hippos can live up to 50 years, and stay pregnant for about 240 days. They are herbivores and eat mainly wild grasses. An adult hippo can stay underwater for up to six minutes at a time, letting them relax and remain cool on hot sunny days.
While Fiona may look adorable with stubby little legs, adult hippos are capable of running almost 30 km/h (19 mph) over short distances. They are also extremely territorial, unpredictable, and aggressive in the wild. In captivity, zookeepers train and work with the animals constantly to get them used to humans. Even then, they are careful not to startle them and don’t enter their enclosures while the animals are loose.
[Featured Image by John Minchillo/AP Images]