Happy birthday, Fiona! Win a chance to meet the sassy hippo by joining her virtual birthday celebration

In this Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, Fiona, a Nile hippopotamus plays in her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, in Cincinnati. The zoo said Fiona will soon eat nothing but grown-up hippo food as she's weaned from her bottles of formula. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
In this Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, Fiona, a Nile hippopotamus plays in her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, in Cincinnati. The zoo said Fiona will soon eat nothing but grown-up hippo food as she's weaned from her bottles of formula. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The Cincinnati Zoo’s most beloved resident is turning 4 years old later this month, and the zoo plans to celebrate with a virtual race of sorts.

On Sunday, Jan. 24, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will be holding “Float4Fiona,” a virtual fundraiser in which people can purchase an apple (or two) to be placed in water. The participants whose apples bob to the top first have the chance to win a number of different prizes. First-prize winners can either experience a behind-the-scenes hippo encounter or a virtual hippo chat with a custom-made Hippo Kiss painting. Second, third and fourth-place winners will receive a limited-edition Fiona kiss print. Three lucky guests will also have the chance to meet the famous Fiona.

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The event will take place before the zoo opens on Jan. 24 and will be streamed live on Facebook.

Each apple is $5 and a pack of four apples is $16. Apples can be purchased by visiting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s website. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the Zoo’s Emergency Operating Fund, which was established last year to keep the zoo afloat amid shutdowns created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fiona, the premature hippo, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo, is now teething!

*Photo credit: WCPO*
Fiona, the premature hippo, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo, is now teething! *Photo credit: WCPO*

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Nearly four years ago, Fiona the hippo was born. Weighing only 29 pounds at birth — 25 pounds less than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species — Fiona became a national sensation for her remarkable survival story. Since her birth, patrons of the Cincinnati Zoo have been entranced by the hippo, who has become one of the most charismatic icons of the zoo.

Now, weighing more than 1,500 pounds, Fiona the hippo is healthier than ever and officially approaching the hippo equivalent of her teenage years. In fact, Fiona has been receiving weekly love notes recently from Timothy, a 3-year-old hippo from San Antonio, on Facebook.

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Despite this attention from the opposite sex, keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo say that Fiona has to be at least 5 years old before she starts thinking about boys. When the time comes, however, zookeepers hope that Fiona’s suitable match will be brought to the Cincinnati Zoo so that the beloved hippo will not have to leave her home.

In the meantime, catch the latest news on Fiona the hippo by visiting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Facebook page.

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