Cover image for Saving Fiona : the story of the world's most famous baby hippo / Thane Maynard.
Saving Fiona : the story of the world's most famous baby hippo / Thane Maynard.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2018.

Physical Description:
1 volume : color illustrations ; 24 cm
aDescribes 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. Includes general information about hippos as a species.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
599.635 MAY Book Junior Collection
599.635 MAY Book Junior Collection

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 is the director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. His aim as both an author and zoo director is to share his love for biological diversity, natural history, and wildlife conservation with people all over the world. Thane says the love people have for Fiona is unlike anything he's ever seen in forty years of work.

Reviews 2

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.

Horn Book Review

When a tiny hippopotamus was born three months premature at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in 2017, none of the large mammal experts knew how to properly care for such a vulnerable creature--nor could they anticipate how social media would make little Fiona a star. Told in clear prose and with photographs at once moving, hilarious, and fascinating, this is an edifying story of survival. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.