Cover image for Saving Fiona : the story of the world's most famous baby hippo
Saving Fiona : the story of the world's most famous baby hippo

Story of the world's most famous baby hippo
Saving Fiona : the story of the world's most famous baby hippo
Personal Author:
Publisher Info:
New York, New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, [2018]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Describes the life of Fiona, a baby hippopotamus who was born prematurely and raised by humans at the Cincinnati Zoo, and details how the hippo became a worldwide Internet sensation.


Call Number
Material Type
J 599.635 MAYN New or Popluar Book Juv Nonfiction

On Order



The amazing, true story of Fiona, a baby hippo born prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo, the team of scientists and caregivers who nursed her to health, and the vast community in Cincinnati and beyond who rallied around her. Includes full-color behind-the-scenes photographs throughout.

On a cold January day in 2017, nearly two months before due date, Nile hippopotamus Bibi gave her keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden a big (little) surprise--a tiny newborn hippo, no bigger than a football. The first premature hippo born and raised in captivity, baby Fiona was an underdog from the start: she couldn't nurse, she couldn't stay hydrated, and she wasn't thriving. But the staff at the zoo knew they could save her. It would take creative thinking and teamwork. They would have to study the makeup of hippo milk for the first time ever and reach out to medical colleagues, including a team at the local Children's Hospital with superior vein-finding skills, to ensure that Fiona would begin to gain weight and become healthy. When Fiona began to thrive, her star began to rise, and soon she became an internet sensation, her picture and videos garnering thousands and thousands of likes and fans on Instagram and Facebook. Now a Fiona appearance at the Zoo mimics a Beatles concert. What made this little, now big, hippo such a big hit with people all over the world? And what's in store for her and her family in the future?

Author Notes

Thane Maynard was born and raised in central Florida, where he earned his bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fl., and his master's degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources. He is also a graduate of the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at the Harvard Business School, as well as the first National Education Leadership Institute sponsored by WWF and Disney. He is an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Margo Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, a primate conservation fund headquartered in Washington, D.C. He travels extensively throughout the world.

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-A wonderful photo essay about Fiona, a baby hippo that was recently born premature at the Cincinnati Zoo. The story begins with the zoo receiving two hippos, Bibi and Henry, after 20 years hippo-less. Maynard describes basic facts about captive hippos (how zoo visitors love hippos, how they spend most of their time in their 70,000 gallon pool) before segueing into the challenges of caring for a pregnant hippo and Fiona's much celebrated birth. The narrative, accompanied by detailed photos, describes how staff cared for Fiona, emphasizing how important teamwork was in contributing to her health and growth. The phenomenon of Fiona on social media (#FionaFix) is briefly mentioned and the book ends with more hippo facts and an image of Fiona posing for her first birthday party-with cake, of course. From the photos to the message of a committed and caring staff, this book highlights a realistic approach to zoo care and the preservation of animals. VERDICT Bound to be a popular selection among young readers. An easy win for nonfiction collections.-Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, where Fiona the hippo was born, provides a gripping behind-the-scenes look at the circumstances of her premature birth and the care given to her by zoo attendants. Readers are likely to be fascinated by the particulars of how the zoo team rallied around Fiona to ensure her survival. Crisp, engaging photographs show Fiona as she is fed formula from a bottle, kept warm, and cared for by nurses from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, who provided Fiona with a hippo IV. Maynard reflects on the role that social media played in drawing the public into Fiona's story, as well as the lasting lesson that emerged from her enormous popularity: "Love carries the day and makes the impossible possible." Ages 4-7. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.