mostlycloudy
Sunday August 19th, 2018 11:17AM

Hippo-y birthday to Fiona! The popular preemie is turning 1

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CINCINNATI (AP) — Some days, it's more like being a Hollywood star's agent than a communications official for the zoo. That's what happens when your prematurely born hippopotamus becomes a global celebrity.

The Cincinnati Zoo has a day of festivities ready for Fiona's first birthday party Saturday, and expect plenty more of Fiona in Year 2.

Zoo director Thane Maynard's own "Saving Fiona" will later this year join the growing library of books about her. The Cincinnati Reds baseball team will feature a Fiona bobblehead, and the minor-league Florence, Kentucky, Freedom plans a Fiona snow globe this summer. There will be a "Fiona's Cove" exhibit at next month's annual Cincinnati Home & Garden Show.

Also ahead: additions to the Fiona-themed T-shirts, cookies, ornaments, and even beer from tie-ins by local retailers who have shared an estimated half-million dollars in revenues with the zoo so far.

Not everything gets green-lighted.

"We've gotten some strange requests," said Chad Yelton, zoo spokesman.

Left on the table: proposals to record music and make videos with Fiona, national toy company endorsements, a simulated space launch of Fiona, and a Texas library's invitation for her to pay a visit.

Meanwhile, zoo staffers are working with Fiona on her transition toward more-typical zoo behavior, with training on responding to verbal cues and receiving grown-up health care from staffers aware that hippos can become aggressive and dangerous. Her bottle-feeding ended a few weeks ago.

"We're treating her more like a full-time hippo and less like a part-time hippo, part-time human," said Christina Gorsuch, the zoo's mammals curator. Fiona will likely double in size in the next year from her current weight of nearly 700 pounds (318 kilograms).

"But she'll still be her adorable self," Gorsuch added.

A few steps away, adults raised their cameras and cellphones and children squealed as Fiona swam over to check out her latest throng of fans. "I love Fiona!" shouted 3-year-old Nolyn Hanley after she nosed near the glass where he had been watching for her with little brother A.J.

The numbers speak volumes about her popularity:

— Zoo attendance in 2016 was 1.63 million. In 2017, it rose to 1.87 million.

— Views of the zoo's Facebook videos in 2016 totaled 8.85 million. From Fiona's birth on Jan. 24, 2017, to Jan. 2, 2018, they totaled 144.4 million.

Some animal rights activists have expressed cynicism, saying the zoo is using a captive animal to boost its marketing.

Fiona came eight months after the May 28, 2016, shooting by a zoo special-response team of an endangered western lowland gorilla after a little boy fell into his enclosure. The death of Harambe spurred criticism of the zoo, while leading to satires and memes over social media that made the slain gorilla a pop-culture icon.

Round-the-clock critical care, with an assist from Cincinnati Children's hospital personnel, helped the baby born Jan. 24, 2017, grow from a dangerously low 29 pounds (13 kilograms). The zoo kept up online updates through good days and bad, but as she continued to progress, the publicists signaled plans to cut back on the regular updates. That drew blowback from fans hungry, hungry for their "Fiona fix."

After a year of it, Yelton doesn't expect the Fiona Frenzy to fade as she leaves her baby days behind.

"She's still going to be Fiona," he said. "A superstar."

___

Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Health - Women's health
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
California DA says couple's abuse of 12 kids became torture
California prosecutors say a couple starved 12 of their 13 children to the point that their growth was stunted and a 29-year-old daughter weighed just 82 pounds
2:17AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Winter is off to late start in normally frigid rural Alaska
Winter is off to a late start in parts of Alaska, and rural residents are feeling the effects.
2:08AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Maybe next time: Cities see failed Amazon bids as trial runs
For cities knocked out of Amazon lottery, the effort may turn out to be a trial run to lure other businesses
1:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
U.S. News
Asian shares subdued as US government shutdown threat looms
Asian stock markets were muted and the dollar fell following Wall Street's retreat as the threat of a U.S. federal government shutdown loomed
1:58AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Pakistan's ace in poker match with US: Afghan air routes
As bad as President Donald Trump describes U.S.-Pakistani ties today, they can get far worse
1:46AM ( 37 minutes ago )
Year-old 'resistance' now sets sights on the ballot box
One year after the self-styled 'resistance' first made its mark with the women's marches that drew millions into the streets, the next step is the ballot box, organizers say
1:42AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Officials piece together chaotic events after officer killed
Investigators are working to piece together the chaotic sequence of events that led to a deputy U.S. marshal being shot to death while serving an arrest warrant in Pennsylvania's capital city
12:18AM ( 2 hours ago )
In Chile, pope met by protests, threats, burned churches
In Chile, Pope Francis was greeted with protests, threats and the burning of at least 11 churches _ hostility unheard of for a papal visit in modern times
12:11AM ( 2 hours ago )
Peru's indigenous await Pope Francis in scorching Amazon
After lengthy treks through the muddy Amazon, indigenous men, women and children will greet Pope Francis Friday in a visit to the world's largest rainforest that indigenous leaders hope will mark a turning point for the increasingly threatened ecosystem
12:08AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Neighbors grapple with reports of child torture
Neighbors of a Southern California couple who authorities say starved, and tortured a dozen of their children for years are trying to grapple with the revelations
10:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
LA Times CEO under investigation after report on impropriety
The parent company of the Los Angeles Times is investigating allegations of inappropriate behavior by the newspaper's CEO Ross Levinsohn
10:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
Deputy US marshal killed while serving Pennsylvania warrant
Authorities say a deputy U.S. marshal was shot and killed while serving a warrant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
9:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
House votes to avert federal shutdown, Senate chances dim
The House has approved a bill preventing a weekend government shutdown, but the Senate prospects are dim.
11:47PM ( 2 hours ago )
Mother: Care denied daughter left in cold in hospital gown
Mother of mentally ill woman says her daughter, 22, was denied her lawful right to medical care when she was left in the cold outside a Baltimore hospital wearing only a flimsy gown
10:49PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Schumer says very short-term funding would be OK
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says Senate Democrats would support a "very short-term" government-wide funding bill to avert a shutdown
9:42PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Health
With Daveed Diggs, 'Blindspotting' tells an Oakland story
"Hamilton" star Daveed Diggs used his own life as inspiration for the film "Blindspotting," which premiered as one of the opening night films of the Sundance Film Festival Thursday to largely positive reactions
10:55PM ( 3 hours ago )
Joint Olympic flag deal angers conservatives in South Korea
Athletes from both Koreas marching behind one flag was an emotional moment at 2000 Olympics, but the plan to do so again isn't generating much enthusiasm among South Koreans for Games in their own country
7:30PM ( 6 hours ago )
Peter Mayle, author of 'A Year in Provence,' is dead at 78
Peter Mayle, the British author known for his books set in Provence, France, died Thursday at age 78
5:40PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Can #MeToo movement do harm? Ansari story raises question
Online account of woman's date with Aziz Ansari sparks debate about whether #MeToo movement is sometimes being misused
3:49PM ( 10 hours ago )
Stars turn out for swansong of Louis Vuitton designer
The celebrity allure of Paris Fashion Week menswear shows was at its height as the notables from the worlds of sports, film and fashion attended the Louis Vuitton swansong show for designer Kim Jones
2:52PM ( 11 hours ago )
GoDaddy to sponsor Danica Patrick in 'Danica Double'
Danica Patrick has secured sponsorship money from GoDaddy to race in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500
2:37PM ( 11 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
The Latest: Rival breast pumps vie for gadget show attention
It's a battle of the breast pumps at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, where more attention is being given to tech innovations for parenting, pregnancy and women's health
4:05PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Health - Women's health
California DA says couple's abuse of 12 kids became torture
California prosecutors say a couple starved 12 of their 13 children to the point that their growth was stunted and a 29-year-old daughter weighed just 82 pounds
2:17AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Winter is off to late start in normally frigid rural Alaska
Winter is off to a late start in parts of Alaska, and rural residents are feeling the effects.
2:08AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Maybe next time: Cities see failed Amazon bids as trial runs
For cities knocked out of Amazon lottery, the effort may turn out to be a trial run to lure other businesses
1:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
New Trump office would protect conscience rights of doctors
On eve of annual anti-abortion march, Trump administration announces new HHS office to protect conscience rights of doctors
12:19AM ( 2 hours ago )
'Jersey Shore' reality star expected to plead to tax charges
One of the former stars of the "Jersey Shore" reality TV show is expected to plead guilty to cheating on his taxes
12:12AM ( 2 hours ago )