For hippo Fiona's 3rd birthday, zoo seeks aid for Australia

For hippo Fiona's 3rd birthday, zoo seeks aid for Australia
Fiona, a Nile Hippopotamus, eats her specialty birthday cake to celebrate turning three-years old this Friday, in her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Zoo is using the third birthday of its beloved premature hippo as a way to raise money for Australian wildlife affected by the recent bushfires. Instead of sending birthday gifts, the zoo is asking people to buy T-shirts that will directly benefit the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Zoo is using the third birthday of its beloved hippo, born premature, as a way to raise money for Australian wildlife affected by the recent bushfires.

Instead of sending birthday gifts for Fiona, the Ohio zoo is asking people to buy T-shirts that will directly benefit the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund. The shirt features a koala and kangaroo giving Fiona a hug and says “Supporting Our Friends Down Under.”

All proceeds from sales of the shirts will be sent to Zoos Victoria to help them care for suffering animals. The zoo will add $5,000 to the total amount raised.

Fiona became a global celebrity after she was born on Jan. 24, 2017, weighing in at just 29 pounds (13 kilograms). The normal range for a hippo's birth weight is 55 to 120 pounds (25 to 55 kilograms). Fiona now weighs a healthy 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms), according to the zoo.

“Fiona won the hearts of Cincinnatians when she fought to survive after being born six weeks early and terribly underweight,” Cincinnati Zoo director Thayne Maynard said. “Three years later, people all over the world are still crazy about this normal, healthy hippo.”

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