Fiona turns 3 years old today and the Zoo will throw her a birthday party. Her premature birth from mother Bibi had the whole world rooting for her development. Depending on the weather, it may be an inside birthday party for the girl that has become the world’s most famous hippo. She has her own beer (Listerman’s Team Fiona American IPA) , ice cream (Graeter’s Chunky Chunky Hippo – toffee ice cream with peanuts and chocolate chunks), T-Shirts and a whole lot of merchandise. Thank God Jeff Ruby hasn’t created a hippo steak in her honor.
Some of these items have raised money for Children’s Hospital and other organizations. There have been songs written for her (to the tune of My Sharona), cookies made of her (Busken made Team Fiona cookies), she performed in our local production of the Nutcracker, and I saw one Christmas nativity that had her in the herd of sheep. She doesn’t have her own peanut butter like Jumbo the elephant did, or a bar named after her like Tillie, the elephant who wintered and is buried in Mariemont, and performed with the Robinson Circus when they came through Northside in the early part of the 1900s. But did either of them have a baby onesie with their image on it? No way.
So what kind of birthday ‘cake’ do you make for a hippo? What do hippos even eat? Well the zoo is preparing a layered ‘cake’ consisting of bamboo, Timothy hay, squash, beets and berries all frozen together. Timothy hay is similar to alfalfa, the same type of food rabbits and guinea pigs eat. So Fiona’s cake is more like a 70s savory jello salad than a birthday cake. It will be served on a bed of Fiona’s favorite food – romaine lettuce. So she might just push the ‘cake’ aside and chow on the lettuce. She’s definitely a salad girl and a vegan. She’s also gluten free and there will be no eggs in her cake. Fiona also eats a cooked grain mash – we can maybe call it vegan goetta – and she prefers it mushy to al dente. Maybe Cincinnati should take heed and use this as an opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle like Fiona has – rather than making another cookie or ice cream in her honor.