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The Fiona Show Is Back For Season Two, Plus Meet The Women Who Helped Save Fiona

Tana Weingartner
Blake Gustafson (left) and Darcy Doellman show off an ultrasound machine like the one they used on Fiona.

Everyone's favorite hippo is getting a second season for her first birthday. The Cincinnati Zoo says The Fiona Show's second season launches Wednesday on Facebook Watch.

Fiona the hippo turns one year old Wednesday and viewers can watch at 9:30 a.m. as Fiona celebrates with a special birthday cake. If you can't get enough, there's a special Instagram Live at noon with the San Diego Zoo and its baby hippo, Tony.

Fiona's come a long way since being born at least six weeks early.

Darcy Doellman and Blake Gustafson are the vascular access nurses from Cincinnati Children's who played a crucial step in keeping Fiona alive during the first weeks after she was born premature.

Read More: Fiona Gets Help From Human Baby Medical Experts

The two used an ultrasound machine to help put in a special IV, which they then sutured in place. The zoo's veterinarians were having trouble placing a line that would stay put since hippos need to be kept wet.

"I think the biggest challenge was actually securing it because her skin was really thick and also very, very dry," says Doellman.

They hoped the line would last at least a few days. It ended up lasting the entire time Fiona needed it, six days.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

As far as the pair knows, this was the first time a vascular access team had ever placed an IV catheter or midline catheter in an animal.

Doellman remembers the experience of first seeing Fiona as jarring.

"I'm used to a patient being up on a table or a bed, and it was really clear that we were going to be bending down on cement and soft blankets and be placing Fiona's IV. That was really strange."

"I'm used to being very sterile," adds Gustafson. "I was thinking 'how are we going to stay sterile sitting on the floor?'"

While they're both modest about what they did, Gustafson says Fiona has helped her with nervous patients.

"I was going to start an IV with another colleague," says Gustafson, "I don't ever really bring it up, but she said to the little girl who was scared, 'she started the IV on the hippo' and she was like 'oh my god, okay, you can try me now. Can I get your picture?'"

The nurses say they're ready if the zoo ever needs their help again.

Fiona captured the hearts of millions of people around the world, and is still going strong. The Fiona Show on Facebook is now over 34 million views, according to the zoo. The zoo says it's had lots of popular animals over the years, but nothing like Fiona. They credit her comeback story and sassy personality.

"She's a feel-good hippo," says zookeeper Christina Gorsuch.

Credit WVXU

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.