Fiona The Hippo
30pp., board book, RRP $A13.99
On January 24, 2017 a baby hippo was born six weeks premature at Cincinnati Zoo, the first born there for 75 years. With a birth weight of just 13kg compared to the normal 25-54 kg she was cared for by zoo staff with the help of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, being bottle fed with milk from her mother supplemented by baby formula. Named after the Shrek heroine, Fiona had to be strong enough to learn to walk and swim and so she was kept separate from both her parents Bibi and Henry as well as the other zoo animals. Even though she was not expected to live, Fiona showed remarkable resilience and by the time she was six months old she was her expected weight and able to join her parents and the other zoo animals.
In this endearing book, Richard Cowdrey has retold Fiona’s early days with humour and stunning illustrations, repeatedly referring to her tenacity with the phrase, “I’ve got this!” As well as introducing her to an even wider audience than the Internet sensation she became, there is also a thread of courage, determination and perseverance that might inspire others, including adults, facing difficulties to keep going, one step at a time.
Today is her second birthday – no doubt she is there ready to blow out her candles.