CINCINNATI -- It's not you, Fiona. It's us. And our fear that you could flatten us in one cute, overzealous hop now that you weigh more than 400 pounds. Sigh.
That's essentially the message caretakers sent to America's favorite prematurely born baby hippopotamus Friday morning on the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's blog. Guess you can break up via text message after all.
"She still seems to enjoy interacting with us but has definitely learned that she is a hippo and prefers to spend her time with Bibi and Henry," zookeepers wrote. "At this point, we rarely share space with her anymore as there is not often a need, and both Fiona and our care team need to understand that at this point in our relationship, it’s just better for everyone if there are safety barriers in place between us."
The zoo said Fiona is spending nearly 24 hours a day with her mom Bibi. Like any married couple, Bibi and Fiona's father Henry are known to bicker (most often over food), so Henry sleeps separately from them at night with a little access window so they can still get snout-to-snout.
Zookeepers interact regularly with Fiona as she takes bottles three times daily in a separate holding pen, but even then she is separated by safety bollards so she can't accidentally trample the humans. After her bottle, zookeepers spend time coercing this picky eater to nibble on a few fruits, veggies and grain since that'll be her adult diet after she's weaned from bottles in the next couple months.
Fiona also gets regular mouth massages to keep her comfortable with being touched by humans and so zookeepers can check on her chompers.