Premature births can cause complications for the baby no matter what species, so when a baby hippo was born six weeks early at the Cincinnati Zoo Botanical Garden, the team knew she was going to need some extra care.
Normally, baby hippos weigh anywhere from 55 to 120 pounds at birth, but after being born six weeks prematurely, baby Fiona weighed only 29 pounds and wasn’t interested in feeding from her mother. The team quickly got to work getting her appetite up by hand feeding her with a bottle, but soon after the team was met with a new, more complicated problem.
Baby Fiona was dehydrated, and normally when an animal is dehydrated, they just give fluids intravenously. However, because Fiona was so tiny, her veins were much smaller than normal. “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,” said zoo curator of mammals Christina Gorsuch, who reached out to the Cincinnati Children’s Vascular Access Team for help. “Lucky for us, we’re right next door to a world-class facility with a whole department dedicated to working with difficult veins.”
The doctors brought special ultrasound equipment to the zoo and were finally able to place a stable IV catheter in Fiona after a second try. “Five bags of fluid later, Fiona is showing signs of recovery,” Gorsuch said. “She is still sleeping a lot but has started to take bottles again and has periods of carefully supervised activity.”
“Everyone at the Zoo is thankful for the love and support our community has shown us for the past three weeks,” the zoo said. “Please keep the prayers and positive energy flowing. #TeamFiona.”
Watch the entire video below to see the amazing way these doctors helped save a preemie hippo’s life.
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[Featured image: Cincinnati Zoo]