On January 24, 2017 the history of Cincinnati Zoo would change forever. A premature calf, Fiona, was born six weeks early. Being the first hippo born in Cincinnati in 75 years, the birth of Fiona was big news in itself. But the fact that the calf was in a critical condition made it go all around the world. We all saw the pictures and videos of the mini-hippo in its keepers arms, and later on taking her first steps, her first swim and at last her first meeting with mommy.
Its not the first time a cute baby animal steal the hearts of millions. We have had them here in Kolmården too. It started with Nelson in 1995, the first rhino to be born in Sweden. He had a brain damage and did not survive more than a week. On the floor in the locker room the zookeepers had placed him on blankets and with veterinarians by his side TV could follow his every breathing. Eleven years later the first gorilla, Enzo was born. The Swedes had followed the mother through webcams months before. The mother wasn’t able to nurse and animal keepers had to hand rear him.
A month ago it happened again, the first asian elephant born in Sweden, Namsai suffered from a herpes outbreak. His condition was so critical we prepared for the worst. With Namsai being a famous animal at the zoo, we also wanted to prepare the public. In the night we wrote a press release about his condition without knowing if he would make it to the morning. Our goal was never to take advantage of the situation, we just wanted to act transparent and to get understanding of the situation from the public. Our vets and keepers worked all around the clock for weeks, and against all odds Namsai recovered. Of course this was a huge success for us and the interest from media was just as big.
NAMSAI with his mother
So what did we learn on the way? There is no better way to reach out with our story and our work with conservation, education and animal welfare then in this context. The emotional bonds to the cute animals makes it easy to highlight the important work we do as a zoo and especially our high animal welfare. Our animals are great ambassadors for their species and nature, all the time. Being transparent and honest as a zoo is key. Animals get sick. That’s nature. We just have to tell their story, so they can tell ours.
See you soon again,