Hippo Day!!

Happy hippo day!!


I woke up in a funk and it didn’t improve throughout the morning. And then across my calendar flashed an unexpected blip of bright orange. It’s the color I reserve for important and fun events. I scanned the entry eagerly.


Yes, hippos, the gigantic ferocious water horses of the African continent. It is hippo day!


In Cincinnati right now, there is a young hippo named Fiona. Fiona captured the attention — and the hearts — of many.  Born 6 weeks premature, the tiny hippo struggled to nurse and breathe.


No zoo had faced this challenge before, but the Cincinnati Zoo rose to the occasion. As did the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which was recruited to help the struggling baby. Gradually she improved and achieved milestones — walking, napping in a pool, eating solid foods. Today, she’s just over a year old.


A year ago, I was working on walking and swimming as well. I could sympathize with the little gray blob just a bit more than was entirely reasonable some days. I was so happy when she improved and a new video was released, showing a hippo bouncing gleefully in a pool or snorting suspiciously at soap bubbles.

Cincinnati has always been a place of impossibilities. It was a major city on the other side of the Ohio River, the dividing line between slave and free. It is the Flying Pig city, which should tell you a lot right there. It has a top-ranked children’s hospital that is in the process of drastically expanding its NICU ward. And it is the place that fought to save a Nile hippo calf and won. In a city where there are a lot of parents and children dreaming that same dream, striving towards those same basic milestones, a little hippo became a symbol of hope and determination.

In honor of Fiona, let’s not give up just yet. Happy hippo day, everyone. Stay strong.




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