Fiona the hippo reunited with both her mom and dad at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Hippo Cove in Ohio. The baby hippo was born premature and had to be nursed back to health before joining her mom and dad.
CINCINNATI — With Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden figuratively wrote the book on hand-raising a premature baby hippo.
Now, the zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, is writing a literal book about the experience that became an Internet phenomenon.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers will release Saving Fiona: Science, Social Media, and the Story of a Baby Hippo on Jan. 22, 2019, just in time for Fiona’s second birthday two days later.
Yes, that’s a bit of a wait for Fiona fans. But Maynard thinks people will still have plenty of interest.
“Fiona has a shelf life,” he said. “She’ll be beloved a long time.”
And a hippopotamus can live a long life. In captivity, a hippo’s lifespan is typically 40 to 50 years; Donna at Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Ind., was 61 when she died in 2012.
Targeted toward elementary school-aged readers, Maynard’s book will be photo heavy with simple prose. It will chronicle everything from the meeting of Bibi and Henry, Fiona’s parents; to Fiona’s birth, struggles and achievements; to her reunion with her parents.
“Houghton Mifflin is a big international publisher, so it will have a broad distribution,” Maynard said.
Maybe not as broad as Fiona herself, though: A single Facebook post about her reached 50 million people, and the zoo’s video views are soaring with 119.7 million to date in 2017 vs. 8 million in all of 2016.
Maynard said he’s asked about the baby hippo everywhere he travels, and he’s been as far away as Belize, Rwanda and Benin in West Africa.
“Hers is a great story to tell,”…