CINCINNATI — The baby hippo who inspired an ice cream flavor, has her own Facebook show and even appeared on playing cards made her literary debut earlier this month.
Hip, Hippo, Hooray for Fiona! (Insights Productions, nonfiction, 42 pp), a children's book written by Jan Sherbin, takes a look at Fiona's inspirational journey from her premature birth on Jan. 24 to her July 11 reunion with her parents.
"Millions of people around the world became emotionally invested in the little hippo's journey and pulled for her," Sherbin said. "The devotion of Fiona's caregivers inspired them, and the close animal-human bond enchanted them."
Hip, Hippo, Hooray is the first of two books about Fiona, the first Nile hippopotamus in captivity to survive being born six weeks prematurely. Her Cincinnati Zoo caretakers hand-raised her, at first with 24-hour care, with the goal of her being able to live with her parents at the zoo.
She grew from 29 pounds — half or less of what a normal newborn hippo would weigh — to 500 pounds by Sept. 23.
Fiona will tip the scales at 3,000 pounds when she's fully mature at 5 or 6 years old, like her mom Bibi, who came to Cincinnati in June 2016 from St. Louis Zoo. Dad Henry arrived in June from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., where he had lived for 34 years — 20 of them all by himself.
Coming in January 2019 will be a book targeted to elementary-school readers from the zoo's director, Thane Maynard: Saving Fiona: Science, Social Media, and the Story of a Baby Hippo.
Expect a 2018 calendar featuring all things Fiona and priced at $16.99 to be available from the zoo in early November.
Hip, Hippo, Hooray, available online and in some Cincinnati area bookstores, includes 65 Cincinnati Zoo photos and retails for $25.99. Portions of the proceeds from both books will go to Fiona's home, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, to help with the costs of her care.