Cincinnati Children's team gives Fiona life-saving IV

Posted: 2:12 PM, Feb 20, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-20 20:17:37Z

CINCINNATI -- When the Cincinnati Zoo’s beloved baby hippo became dehydrated late last week, specialists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center stepped in to get her the IV fluids she needs. 

Cincinnati Zoo veterinary staff struggled to give Fiona an IV, so they reached out to Children’s Vascular Access Team, a department that often works with premature babies. 

Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals, said the zoo team is lucky to be close to a department dedicated to working with difficult veins. 

Cincinnati Children's Vascular Access Team inserted this IV Friday. Fiona has shown signs of recovery since. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

“Preemies have very tiny and unstable veins, and even though our vet team was able to get multiple IVs placed, the veins could not sustain the IV and would blow,” Gorsuch said in a news release.

Gorsuch said Fiona has taken in five bags of fluid and is showing signs of recovery since Children’s vascular team placed the IV catheter in her leg Friday. Fiona was put on a feeding tube Friday after she wasn't showing interest in her bottle. 

“She is still sleeping a lot but has started to take bottles again and has periods of carefully-supervised activity,” Gorsuch said. “The catheter is still in place.”

Fiona has taken in five bags of fluid since her IV was inserted Friday. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

Sylvia Rineair, clinical director of the Vascular Access Team, said the department is happy to help the animals.

“Like many people, we are rooting for Fiona,” Rineair said.

This was not the first time Cincinnati Children’s has helped care for the zoo’s animals. Ali the aardvark was taken to Children’s for CT and MRI scans in 2015 when she had ocular drainage. They have also consulted on baby gorillas and polar bear pregnancies, zoo officials said.

Fiona weighed only 29 pounds when she was born premature on Jan. 25, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest-recorded birth weight for a Nile hippo. Now Fiona weighs in just under 50 pounds. 

PHOTOS: Click here to see all of Fiona's progress