All it takes is a dip, a dive and a splash.
These are the skills 4-month-old Fiona is practicing at the Cincinnati Zoo to grow up to be a big and strong hippo like the rest of her family.
She could be seen around her habitat, venturing into the water and getting more and more comfortable swimming around the pool.
“There’s a lot to get used to in the great outdoors,” Cincinnati Zoo curator of mammals Christina Gorsuch said in a statement. "Fiona can only handle short visits outside right now. She’s doing great navigating in the 9-feet-deep pool, but it takes a lot of energy to propel herself from the bottom to the surface over and over again.”
She explained that Fiona, who was born premature and underweight, is still not ready to be on display at the zoo. But, she is reaching new milestones every day with the help of dedicated zookeepers.
“Members of Fiona’s care team swim with her to make sure she isn’t struggling and to keep her company,” Gorsuch explained. “Under normal circumstances, she would be with her parents or a larger bloat. Since she was born six weeks premature and was unable to stand to nurse, human caregivers had to step in to take care of her.”
Fiona, who was born in January, is slowly bonding with her parents. She will be ready to pursue a relationship with mother Bibi and father Henry when she gets bigger, since she is only about one tenth the size of her parents due to being born at a record low weight.