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Sassy 6! How Fiona the hippo is celebrating her birthday

hippo with hooves on the wall and head tilted jauntily upward for the camera
Suzie Langen
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Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Fiona celebrates her sixth birthday Jan. 24.

The premature hippo that almost didn't make it — but did, and captured the hearts of millions in the process — turns 6 years old Tuesday.

Fiona will celebrate with a special cake during a Facebook Live event at 2 p.m.

"January is pretty unpredictable when it comes to the weather, so we can't really plan a big outdoor celebration because we never know," explains Michelle Curley, communications director with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. "The temperature has to be 40 degrees for her to be out, and it's really, really close [Tuesday], but we think we're going to be able to get her out in the late afternoon."

Fiona continues to grow and thrive, according to her keepers.

"I think this year is going to be mostly about her being a big sister to Fritz. I think that he's brought a lot of energy to Hippo Cove and they play all the time," says Curley. She's also hitting some milestones of becoming more of an adult hippo, but she's still very playful."

a large hippo approaches a smaller hippo who is opening its mouth in what looks like a wide yawn
DJ Jam Photo
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Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Fiona, left, and Fritz have play time in Hippo Cove.

Curley says not much is expected to change this year with the residents at Hippo Cove. Though Fritz, a male born Aug. 3, 2022, is expected to be relocated at some point, that's not likely soon. The Hippo Species Survival Plan will determine when and where.

The zoo caused an internet stir in November 2022, when it confirmed Fiona and male hippo Tucker — father to her half-sibling Fritz — were showing mating behaviors. Such behavior, it said, is normal and the two are not related. Fiona is on birth control.

tucker, fiona, fritz and bibi inside hippo cove
Michelle Peters
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Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The happy hippo family inside Hippo Cove.

"So far, so good, and so we're happy about that," Curley says. "Everything is going fine; going as planned."

Fiona may be recommended for breeding at some point, but the Hippo Species Survival Plan will make that determination. However, as evidenced by Bibi's unexpected pregnancy that resulted in Fritz's birth, hippo birth control can be a tricky dosage to master.

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.