Fiona, the prematurely-born hippo who resides at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, has become a media darling thanks to her story of perseverance and being, well, super-adorable, but until this week, access to Fiona had been limited to her keepers and support staff. However, thanks for her solid development (she was born in January weighing only 29 pounds, and now she weighs almost 300 pounds), the zoo allowed members of the press to see Fiona explore the outdoor habitat, Hippo Cove.
Per the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fiona's arrival was greeted with squeals from the press, a good sign for a celeb looking for even more positive coverage. Fiona played to the crowd, too, pausing to take in the new humans in her midst and attempting to get all the attention she could.
"It's kind of the crown accomplishment to have her out here acting the same as a normal, mother-reared hippo," said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals and "coach" of the zoo's Team Fiona explained to the Enquirer.
Fiona is now on pace with where she'd be if she were not born prematurely. "This was hard to imagine four months ago," Gorsuch said.
Now, this wasn't Fiona's first excursion out to Hippo Cove. Keepers have been guiding her through the area for a little while now, helping to get comfortable with the habitat and assisting her if she struggles to surface from the floor of the 9-foot-deep tank.
There's still no word on when Fiona will be ready to greet her already adoring public, but zoo officials hope it'll be within the next few weeks.