Famed baby hippo an educational force
CINCINNATI - AP
The Cincinnati Zoo's famous premature baby hippo does more than delight social media fans and help sell a wide range of merchandise. She's also an educational and literary force; heroine of a half-dozen books so far and a popular subject for library and classroom activities.
The latest book is "Saving Fiona" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) written by the zoo's director, Thane Maynard.
"She has taught us a lot," Maynard said. It's believed Fiona is the smallest hippo ever to survive. Born nearly two months early, she was 13 kilograms, a third the size of a typical full-term Nile hippo and unable to stand or nurse.
A zoo staffer hand-milked her mother Bibi, and Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington helped develop a special formula.
His book is aimed at young readers, telling Fiona's against-the-odds story while loading in facts about hippos, such as that they can outrun humans and are herbivores that can be dangerous because of their size of up to 2,267.96 kilograms.
The combined Fiona library of books by various authors and illustrators has sold tens of thousands so far.
Educators say students are attracted to lessons themed around animals. Fiona has been on the cover of three Scholastic News Magazines that reached millions of students with stories accompanied by reading exercises or math formulas such as finding how many bathtubs the water in her zoo would fill.
"Everybody just falls in love with her," said Stephanie Smith, editorial director for Scholastic News grades 3-6. "Kids will just gobble it up. It makes teaching easy."