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Baby Hippo At Cincinnati Zoo Saved By Children's Hospital

Update Date: Feb 22, 2017 07:00 AM EST

Fiona, the 4-week-old ailing baby hippo had become dehydrated after refusing milk and required an urgent IV drip. She was born six weeks early to a 17-year-old hippo, named Bibi, on January 24 at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The zoo said she weighed 13 kg (29 lbs), which was about half the previous lowest recorded birth weight for hippos. Normal weight range for baby hippos are 25-54 kg. At almost a month old, Fiona doesn't weigh 25 kg yet.

The zoo staff said in their blog that Fiona was teething last week. That made her bottle feeding uncomfortable. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center stepped in when she grew sick and lethargic, and helped rehydrate her.

The zoo's curator of mammals Christina Gorsuch said that "Preemies have very tiny and unstable veins, and even though our vet team was able to get multiple IVs placed, the veins could not sustain the IV and would blow."

Luckily they were next door to a world-class facility with a whole department dedicated to working with difficult veins.

According to BBC two hospital members of the vascular team brought ultrasound equipment to the zoo on Friday. They put an IV catheter into Fiona, it lasted 30 minutes before her vein ruptured.

The team was able to secure a line into her deep leg veins. Zoo keepers closely monitored the IV since then.

AOL reported after five bags of fluid, Fiona showed signs of recovery. She sleeps a lot but has started to take bottles again. The catheter is still in place and she has periods of carefully-supervised activity every day.

Baby Fiona is being cared for closely with mother Bibi and father Henry so that the family can hear and smell each other. Scientists at the zoo had captured the first ever ultrasound image of a Nile hippo fetus.

"Like many people, we are rooting for Fiona!" said Sylvia Rineair, clinical director of the Vascular Access Team of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. It's not the first they worled with the zoo. In 2015 they help Ali the aardvark with eye problems.

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