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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to Publish Children’s Book about Internet Sensation, Cincinnati Zoo’s Baby Hippo Fiona

saving_fiona_content_photoBOSTONHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers announced today that it will publish Saving Fiona:  Science, Social Media, and the Story of a Baby Hippo about the hippopotamus born prematurely at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, whose growth and reintroduction to her family made her an internet sensation.

Written by Thane Maynard, director of the zoo, Saving Fiona will be heavily illustrated with color photographs and written for elementary-school aged readers. The author's proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. 

Born on Jan. 24, 2017, nearly two months prematurely, Fiona weighed just 29 pounds, which is less than half the normal birth weight of a hippo. The book will cover her surprise birth, the struggle to save her when she wasn't growing or eating properly, and the remarkable achievements she has made since, including the recent reunion with her entire family. Behind-the-scenes photographs and exclusive interviews with the zoo staff will give readers an intimate look at the inner workings of a zoo, and the relationships the caregivers have with the animals that live there.

Videos of Fiona posted to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s social media accounts have reached up to 50 million viewers. Her struggle for survival and the intense care and love she’s been shown have captured the attention/hearts of people from around the world. Using the hashtag #TeamFiona, donations have come in from people around the world, helping the Zoo provide 24-hour a day care for Fiona.

“Fiona’s incredible story of survival and hope captured all of us at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and we’re delighted to bring readers behind the scenes at the Cincinnati Zoo where Thane Maynard’s hardworking team dedicated itself to saving the world’s favorite baby hippo. Readers will enjoy an inside look at this one-of-a-kind story that features cutting edge science, community support, and unexpected social media fame,” says Catherine Onder, SVP and Publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers.

Maynard is internationally recognized for his dedication to wildlife preservation, research and education. He has authored more than a dozen books, the most recent, Hope for Animals and Their World, was coauthored with Jane Goodall. He has also shared science and environmental news via his nationally-syndicated radio program, “The 90-Second Naturalist,” for 30 years.

Saving Fiona: Science, Social Media, and the Story of a Baby Hippo will be published on Jan. 22, 2019 in advance of Fiona’s second birthday.  Erica Zappy of HMH’s Books for Young Readers group acquired world rights.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing
For nearly two centuries, HMH Trade Publishing has published some of the world’s most renowned novels, nonfiction, children’s books, and reference works. As part of a leading global learning company, it is uniquely positioned to offer educational and entertaining content for all audiences. Its distinguished author list includes ten Nobel Prize winners, forty-eight Pulitzer Prize winners, fifteen National Book Award winners, and more than one hundred Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, and Sibert Medal and Honor recipients. HMH publishes such distinguished authors as Philip Roth, Temple Grandin, Tim O'Brien, and Amos Oz, and a celebrated roster of children’s authors and illustrators including Kwame Alexander, Lois Lowry, and Chris Van Allsburg. HMH is also home to The Best American series®; The Whole30®, Weber Grill, Betty Crocker®, Better Homes and Gardens®, How to Cook Everything®,  and other leading lifestyle properties; the Peterson Field Guides®; CliffsNotes™; books by J.R.R. Tolkien; and many iconic children’s books and characters, including Curious George®, The Little Prince, and The Polar Express. For more information, visit

About the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The world famous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is committed to inspiring visitors to care about wildlife and wild places.  It has been rated the #1 attraction locally and one of the top zoos in the nation by Zagat Survey.  It has also received rave reviews from Child Magazine, Parents Magazine, USA Today and TripAdvisor.  Over 1.5 million people visit the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, and more than 500 animal and 3000 plant species annually. The Zoo, an accredited member of the Association of  Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), is internationally known for its success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants and engages in research and conservation projects worldwide. Known as the #GreenestZooInAmerica, the Zoo is doing its part to conserve natural resources that are critical to saving wildlife and its habitats and is committed to greening its daily operations and reducing its impact on the environment through the use of rain gardens, recycled building materials, solar panels and more. The Cincinnati Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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Tara Shanahan
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