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Fiona celebrates fifth birthday with virtual party and fundraiser

Cincinnati Zoo Fiona Exhibit.jpg
Posted at 3:27 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-24 15:37:16-05

CINCINNATI — A virtual birthday party, a Fiona kiss painting and a hippo table, oh my.

All of these things were up for grabs in a fundraiser held by the Cincinnati Zoo to celebrate Fiona's fifth birthday Monday.

For the cost of a $5 birthday gift, those who participated were invited to Fiona's virtual birthday party and for a higher donation, revelers were entered in a chance to win a grand prize package that includes a one-of-a-kind hippo table, created by artist Mark Stoddart.

Those who anted up and bought Fiona a $20 birthday gift got five chances to win a grand prize.

Included in the grand prize was:

  • One-of-a-kind hippo table by Mark Stoddart (artist will cover shipping costs)
  • Certificate of authenticity
  • Framed copy of the table's story
  • An original Fiona kiss painting

The proceeds from the donations will support the zoo and the Rare Gen Talent School, an organization for children with dyslexia based in Fiona's native land.

In January 2021, the zoo held a virtual party for Fiona's fourth birthday so everyone could attend safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the zoo said, it's about reaching all of Fiona's fans.

"Fiona has fans all over the world, and we want to open her party up to everyone," said Thayne Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo director in a press release. "Plus, planning an outdoor celebration in January is risky. A virtual celebration is the perfect way to include everyone."

When Fiona was born, she was six weeks premature and weighed only 29 pounds; she was 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species. She was so little and weak she couldn’t stand and nurse from her mom, so her care team bottle-fed her.

Fiona’s care team stayed with her 24 hours a day. They held her chest to chest to help her regulate her breathing, they made sure she was getting enough nutrients through feeding tubes and they celebrated every milestone.

Now, the sassy hippo is a healthy 5-year-old. When she’s not busy being an internet sensation, she’s romping around with her mom, photobombing engagement pics and getting snoot scratches from her care team.