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Newborn girl named after Fiona the Hippo meets her namesake at Cincinnati Zoo

gmc fiona.jpg
Newborn girl named after Fiona the Hippo meets her namesake at Cincinnati Zoo (Photo: Kerbe Jones Shepherd)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – A newborn baby girl is named after the one and only princess of the Cincinnati Zoo: Fiona the Hippo!

The name behind the precious newborn has quite the story, and it all starts with her big brother Bryce.

Bryce and his parents, Kerbe and Dave Shephard, love the Cincinnati Zoo, so much that one trip back in March led Bryce to a name he just couldn’t get out of his head.

“He says 'Mommy I know what to name my baby sister. It has to be Fiona just like that cute hippo,'” Kerbe said.

Like most parents to a 3-year-old, Kerbe and David just went along with it.

“Who names their child after a hippo? Right? Or an ogre from Shrek,” Kerbe said.

The parents had other names in mind.

Fast-forward to the Fourth of July, and Kerbe said she started having pains while at the zoo. The pains turned out to be contractions, and she went to the hospital.

“I think when we decided to go to the hospital, the conversation on the way there was like, 'So if this baby actually comes today, I think her name has to be Fiona,'” Kerbe said.

At 11:33 that night, baby Fiona was born premature and with Down syndrome.

“We knew we had a high chance of having it but we never did any of the confirmation diagnostic testing because it wouldn't have mattered and it wouldn't have changed anything,” Kerbe said. “So we knew then we were at the zoo, and she was going to have all these challenges that she was going to overcome and be awesome with, and that we had our own special little girl in our hands. So we knew that Fiona was the right name, and then it stuck.”

Last week, the two Fionas met for the very first time.

“But I think the best part was Bryce was just so happy to be there and was telling his baby sister that this was Fiona the hippo and your name is Fiona, and he said 'I could watch this hippo all day, mommy,'” Kerbe said.

Their story is now gaining traction all over social media. The family hopes it can share a positive light on Down syndrome.

“I really want people to know when you hear Down syndrome, instead of thinking about it as a disability, think about the capabilities,” David said.

While baby Fiona will face challenges, the Shepherds know she’ll grow to be big, strong and awesome, just like Fiona the hippo.

Baby Fiona is healthy as can be. The Shephard family plans to go to the zoo more often now to continue nurturing the relationship between Fiona the baby, and Fiona the hippo!