CINCINNATI (FOX19) - When Cincinnati Zoo's premature baby hippo Fiona became dehydrated and in need of IV fluids, zoo staff reached out to their neighbors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
The hospital's expert Vascular Access Team (VAT) rushed to the zoo with sensitive ultrasound equipment and placed an IV catheter in Fiona.
Mobile users: See photos of the Cincinnati Children's team with Fiona
"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," said curator of mammals Christina Gorsuch. "Lucky for us, we're right next door to a world-class facility with a whole department dedicated to working with difficult veins."
The first IV line lasted about 30 minutes and then the vein blew, zoo staff said. Not giving up, the team gave it another try and placed a life-saving IV catheter in one of her deep leg veins.
Zoo vet staff has been with Fiona around the clock to monitor that valuable IV since it was placed on Friday afternoon.
"Five bags of fluid later, Fiona is showing signs of recovery," said Gorsuch. "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."
Fiona weighed 29 pounds when she was born, on January 24, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for this species. The normal range is 55-120 pounds. She is still a few pounds shy of 50.