I SAW FIONA!! What a treat! To follow the wellbeing of a prematurely born hippo online and then to see her in person, surviving the odds stacked against her, just what a treat!
Husband and I visited the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday. You would have thought that with the drizzling rain the visitor count would be low but NO! We had to bypass two full lots to find one that even had parking. I remember a zoo staffer once telling me that the animals are more active when it rains. I was keeping my fingers crossed. As a heads up, lines for tickets are normally long. It would be beneficial for you to purchase your tickets online and have them sent to your phone. If you order online, you get a small discount (which really goes to covering the fee for an online purchase so it balances out actually). To order your tickets online go HERE.
Before I go any further, I would like to commend the volunteers at Cincinnati Zoo. Throughout the zoo, you will see workers (easy to spot with their zoo polo shirts on) walking along with guests. They are put there to help when it seems like a guest is lost or has a question. One walked up to us while we looked confused and then showed us where the tortoises were. They are trained to be able to discuss various topics and various animals. They are an excellent resource for curious minds, like me. There are varying levels of volunteering at the Cincy Zoo. There is the 13-18 year olds who commit to 84-120 hours per year (these volunteer hours can be used for community service hours at their schools). If a Zoo Teen is interested in the animals, there is one track for them. If the Zoo Teen is interested in the pollinators, there is another track for them. Cincinnati Zoo also includes a Botanical Garden. There is a volunteer program for families to do together (or small groups of friends). Those programs are geared more for collecting data. In June Families will help with the American Burying Beetle Release Project, Cleaning up the Little Miami River and Helping Out Honeybees. Then there are the 18+ volunteers who (in my experience) seem to be a large number of retirees who love to still get out and mingle with people while enjoying their work. Not all are retirees though, there are some teachers who are off on summers and there are “regular folks” who do it too. If I lived closer, I would most certainly volunteer. In speaking with the volunteer at the Galapagos Tortoise enclosure, she stated that she started as an “educator”, someone who can answer your questions about the enclosure you are experiencing. She said that most people do their one year mandatory educator experience and then hop to the specific hands on volunteering. However, she stayed as an educator for three years. She likes that the educators are the ambassadors of the zoo, the first people you encounter when you have questions or need help.
So, thank you to all the volunteers! We appreciate you. If you are interested in volunteering at the Cincinnati Zoo, click HERE
There are restrooms just inside the gate. The Zoo has a number of restroom facilities but I have found that, at my age, I never pass up an opportunity… This sign was in the bathroom stall. Good advice…
Bobby’s first Zoo experience was the elephants. We were fortunate that one had decided to take a dip in the pond. The kids around us were fascinated with his trunk darting in and out of the water. I believe they wanted to be sprayed. I did not. Every time I see an elephant spray a crowd I think: how much snot (ugh… can’t think about that any further). So there was a blue barrel hanging from a post that had hay inside of it. It was fun to watch as the mama elephant stretched her truck out fully to get a bite to eat. A number of cardinals were fluttering in and out of the barrel, every time the elephant would move it around.
There were two enclosures for the elephants. One for the girls and one for the bulls. A young elephant was throwing sand on his body using his trunk. I would like to note here that kids are all about the elephant poop. “Look! Elephant POOP woooow.” One kid, after discussing the poop and the birds on the poop and the visible hay on the poop commented “Elephant poop is very interesting.”
I love visiting the giraffes! Their spots are like a human fingerprint, no two are identical. They had a ball in the air with treats in it (similar to the elephant barrel). The Zoo Educator explained to us that this was in place to help the giraffes simulate how they would eat out in the wild, having the reach for their food. They have a diet of like eight pounds of various foods (including the hay, lettuce and some other things). For $3 you could feed lettuce to the giraffe. Bobby was not too keen on that idea. And the line was fairly long. From where we stood (as close to the feeding area as possible and with direct contact to the educator) we were able to see the giraffes up close and ask all of the questions. All of them were born in captivity, the oldest giraffe there is 12 years old.
Why do flamingos stand on one leg? If you look it up, scientists cannot answer the question. The closest they come is to say that they do it while resting, allowing one side to rest and then the other.
We arrived at the Cheetah Encounter just as people were leaving (drat!). We spoke with one of the handlers at length though d a ton of questions about where the big cats were born, if in captivity and other curiosities. As we were walking away he called to us and asked if we had missed the Cheetah Experience and we told him yes. He told us to hang around for a minute because Redd was being brought out for a run. So Bobby was able to see this amazing cheetah take a run.
Much like with the feeders set up in the elephant and giraffe enclosures, these runs teach cheetahs born in captivity how to run as if they are in the wild and learn their strides and the feel of the chase. I was very excited that the cheetah we were able to see was Redd. I follow the Zoo on their various social media platforms. I was familiar with Redd, the premature cheetah who was paired with a puppy.
I loved how there was a field that was set up like life on the Savanah. A mix of creatures and birds. It was right next to the lion enclosure. Standing next to it gave the false illusion that it was one long enclosure.
All the signs for HIPPO!!!! Getting excited! It was right around this point that I heard a kid say (very deadpanned delivery): “How many animals do we have to see Fran home?” I chuckled.
In addition to this being a great Zoo and Botanical Garden, a number of sculptures. Some are kind of hidden. There was a very realistic bird sculpture just inside the cheetah enclosure. Here you see a little dung beetle doing his job.
FIONA!!! and BIBI!!! Watching Bibi swim effortlessly was fascinating. I said “Look out easily she swims.” The woman next to me said “Big girl is graceful!” And she was! I could watch them all day.
I have been following Fiona on social media since a few weeks after she was born. Fiona was very premature and is a miracle baby who survived the odds stacked against her.
Just past Hippo Cove there was the human enclosure:
I think it was just before the bird section that there was Serenity Garden taught about water flow and irrigation. There was a wishing well there and we saw a kid being fussed at for reaching in and grabbing coins. NO! Screamed the Mom and then she explained that he was stealing other people’s wishes. “That’s a lot of wishes,” another kid close by muttered. And then onto the birds! And by birds, I mean PENGUINS! But we had to see other birds first…
The Cincinnati Zoo is a funny zoo. Funny ha ha. Their King Penguin names: Martin Luther, Coretta Scott, Larry, Stacey, Buddy and Bebe (to name a few).
We made our way through the bears, monkeys and rhinos…
There were three white lions gifted from Siegfried and Roy in 1998. Prosperity (an article on her can be found HERE) was the first white lion born in Las Vegas. The duo originally donated three white lions. Future passed away in 2014. Sunshine passed away in 2015. And, if you are curious like I am, the duo’s full names are: Siegfried Fishbacher and Roy Horn. While attending Xavier University, I loved this zoo. I remembered the white tigers I saw while I was there. They were remarkable beasts. Sadly, this weekend, the last of the white tigers living at this zoo passed away. Popsy was 22.
Some days I feel like this could be my spirit animal, head just above…
The final stop (other than the gift store) was the Galapagos Tortoise enclosure. What a treat to find out there was an “experience” available. We were able to get up close and pet them!! I was thrilled to learn the tortoises are named after the Marauders, of Harry Potter fame (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs – Mischief Managed!)!! They have sensitive shells with nerves connecting them to their body. When you rigorously pet their shells, they can feel it. Some enjoy it. Some could give two turtle poops less.
I found my spirit animal! I also found my sign… I wish this was on a t-shirt.
If you would like to follow the social media accounts of the Cincinnati Zoo, they are as follows:
And, you know that saying “pictures or it didn’t happen”? I feel that way about souvenirs! So, t-shirt (check), mug (check), magnet (check), tiny animals (all the checks).
Below is a map of the zoo. I always like having a plan of attack prior to doing something like visiting a zoo.
How lovely to see an update on Fiona! I remember the news when she was born. And my daughter is a Fiona but didn’t tell her as she might not be best pleased her namesake is a hippo! 😁
I am so fascinated that the Cincinnati Childrens Hospital was brought in to help a premature hippo. All of the people coming together to make sure this hippo lived!