Fiona Gets Help From Human Baby Medical Experts

Feb 20, 2017

Update 02/21/17: The Cincinnati Zoo says, "Fiona took two bottles this morning and seems to have more energy. She's still receiving fluids via IV but she is able to get up and move around with help."

Original Post: A team of medical professionals from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center worked on a different kind of patient last week. Members of the vascular access team were called to the Cincinnati Zoo to get an intravenous line set up for a baby hippopotamus.

Zoo staff have been caring for Fiona since she was born prematurely on January 24. She weighed only 29 pounds, which is 25 pounds less than the lowest recorded birth weight for her species, according to the Zoo.

Friday, Fiona became dehydrated and the Zoo called Children’s for assistance.

“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,” curator of mammals Christina Gorsuch said.

Two VAT team members went to the zoo with ultrasound equipment and placed an IV catheter in Fiona. The line lasted about 30 minutes before the vein blew. The team set a second IV in one of Fiona’s deep leg veins.

“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. The catheter is still in place.”

This is not the first time the Zoo and Children’s have worked together.  In 2015, an aardvark went to Children’s for CT and MRI scans to get a look for what might have been causing persistent ocular drainage.  Children’s staff have also consulted on baby gorillas, polar bear pregnancy tests and more.