The hippo that stole America's heart turns one on January 24.
Fiona the hippo was probably one of the biggest stars of 2017. She was the first hippo born at the Cincinnati Zoo (which had some PR problems in 2016, if you recall) in 75 years and she was premature, weighing just 29 pounds—tiny for a hippopotamus. A loving, dedicated team of caretakers nursed her to health. A year later, she weighs a hearty 550 pounds.
To say that people are obsessed with Fiona is a slight understatement. Fans clamoring to catch a glimpse of the lumbering tot in her enclosure often overrun the Cincinnati Zoo. She swims! She eats watermelon! She photobombs engagement photos! Truly, she is a multi-talented super star. People want to celebrate Fiona’s triumph over adversity so fervently that she even has a couple different foods named after her: Listermann Brewery crafted an IPA called Team Fiona in her honor, while ice cream company Graeters created its Chunky Chunky Hippo pint in her name.
Over the weekend the zoo threw a birthday bash for Fiona—although her actual birthday isn’t until January 24—which included a hippo-friendly cake in the shape of the number one. A spokesperson for the zoo told Food & Wine that the entire cake was constructed from frozen fruit juice, and that it came served with whole watermelon, honeydew melon, and pineapple. In fact, this occasion also marked Fiona’s first time eating pineapple. Fiona—with the help of her mom, Bibi—devoured the entire cake during a party open to her adoring public. Good to see her caretakers are keeping her on a healthy diet.
Listermann Brewery also celebrated the occasion of Fiona’s birth with a Birthday Edition of their Team Fiona beer that came in a tall, red can decorated with a picture of Fiona wearing a party hat.
Fiona is absolutely worth celebrating, so let’s all cheers to many more birthday celebrations in this resilient little hippo's future.