When you think of adorable animals that gain international fandom, you probably think enthusiastic border collies or serious-looking cats having bad hair days. It’s a fair assumption that up until last year, you would never, ever have thought of a hippo, a rhino or an aardvark when someone shared an adorable animal link. Odds are you wouldn’t have known what an aardvark was and hippos just sound kind of dangerous to be honest. But then something magical happened in 2017 and it happened in the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
On January 24, 2017, Fiona the hippo was born in the Cincinnati Zoo. She was born six weeks prematurely so she needed a lot of attention from the get go. With 24-hour care, she powered through some scary moments and her team posted daily updates of her fight for life. This may have contributed to her stardom and maybe she owes her fame in part to her name: Fiona was born a princess, although she’s growing up to be a viral social media queen. It’s all in the ears, people.
Those who caught on early watched in awe as the tiny preemie hippo drank her milk from a bottle, got bathed and swam in her tank for the first time, up until that time she was reunited with her family, photo-bombed someone’s engagement and farted in her pool. It’s hard to explain her attraction but in addition to her overwhelming cuteness, her smiling and curious-looking face, her childlike enthusiasm for everything just shines through the countless posts of Fiona doing something or nothing. It might also help that for once, we’re all rooting for our heroine to get fatter.
Weird hippo fact: Hippos secrete unique red hippo acids that work as skin moistener and sunblock. In other words, they are their own cosmetics manufacturer. Hippo beauty really comes from the inside.
Born in July 2017, Kendi is a glorious black rhino dude. He was a long-awaited addition to the zoo, seeing that a rhino’s gestation period is a whopping 15 months! Although clearly a rhinoceros, with that unmistakable rhino horn and rhino skin, Kendi is more of a prehistoric-looking puppy. A puppy with an adorable horn who loves nothing more than a good mud-bath.
Weird rhino fact: Rhinos have a special relationship with the African oxpecker bird. The oxpecker eats parasites off the rhino and functions as a rhino’s personal alarm system in case of danger, not unlike our personal relationship with our IT department.
Winsol the Aardvark
To be honest, we didn’t know what an aardvark was until Cincinnati Zoo posted this bit of exciting news in late December, 2017.
Named after the winter solstice it was born on, we only learned Winsol’s gender in March, after DNA testing confirmed that Winsol is indeed a young gentleman.
Maybe it’s the oversized feet, the pig-like snout or those bunny-like ears or maybe it’s the fact that his hairless skin just kind of looks like a new-born baby but there is something absolutely adorable about this little anteater.
Weird aardvark fact: The nocturnal aardvark can eat up to 50,000 ants a night and contrary to what you might think, one of their closest relatives is the elephant!
Maybe all babies are cute and maybe we’re just stumped by these adorable, yet furless youngster. Whatever the reason, we’ve really never known a better reason to travel anywhere than to visit this impressive zoo and their happy and adorable animals.