In less than a year Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's baby Nile hippo, Fiona, has developed a worldwide fan base.
Born six weeks early this January, she's had people from Cincinnati to Belize watching, visiting and rooting for her from the start.
Some had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide hands-on care in her early days.
Others have traveled more than 1,000 miles to see her. To name a few, the Fiona fan club includes:
- A picture of Nick Kelble and Hayley Roll went viral in October, after Fiona photobombed Kelble proposing to Roll at the Hippo Cove.
- During a trip to Belize in March, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard overheard a fellow tourist commenting about Fiona.
- People have traveled from Cape Coral, Florida, Orange, California and Elkmont, Alabama, to see Fiona. Lacy and Charles Looney of Chattanooga, Tennessee, even spent their honeymoon in Cincinnati, hoping for a chance to see her.
- Some prematurely born kids and their families found Fiona’s story so relatable they’ve shared their own stories, pictures and words of encouragement.
- Some people have a soft spot for cats or dogs. Others are wild about horses. Heather Moore, who lives in Canada, loves hippos. She’s been collecting hippo memorabilia for years, but she was so inspired by Fiona that she got a tattoo of the baby hippo.
- The Fiona Show Facebook page, which features photos and videos of its namesake, has 152,230 likes and 241,151 followers.
- WCPO sold copies of the children's book "My Best Friend Fiona" written by Lucy Ma and illustrated by Kevin Necessary to hippo lovers in 49 of 50 states and the District of Columbia. Vermont apparently doesn't love Fiona that much. WCPO also sold nearly 30 international orders to 13 countries on five different continents.