Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo's premature hippo, lifts spirits here and beyond

Good news a relief for staff after Harambe's death

CINCINNATI -- Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo's prematurely born hippo, has been providing regular doses of happiness for animal lovers.

And all the public affection for baby Fiona has also given an emotional lift to zoo workers after months of backlash over the fatal shooting there of Harambe, a gorilla who became a pop culture phenomenon in death.

GALLERY: You've got to see our favorite Fiona photos

Video updates such as Fiona taking a bottle, splashing in a pool or learning to run have drawn tens of millions of online views.

Check out some of our favorite clips below:

 
 
 
 

Thousands of people have bought #TeamFiona T-shirts, and thousands more have eaten Fiona-themed bakery treats.

Hippo mom Bibi gave birth to Fiona six weeks early, on Jan. 24. She weighed only 29 pounds, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest-recorded birth weight for her species.

With relatively little information and few resources available on caring for preemie hippos, the zoo faced many challenges in helping Fiona live and grow.

Now she weighs in at 173 pounds.

READ MORE: The risky story of Fiona's birth

Zoo officials say zoos are increasingly using new ways for the public to see the animals and their care, such as the recent livestream of a giraffe giving birth in New York.

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