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Call Her Professor Fiona: Baby Hippo An Educational Force

The combined Fiona library of books by various authors and illustrators has sold tens of thousands so far.

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In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018, photo, Fiona, a baby Nile Hippopotamus sleeps as visitors stop by her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in Cincinnati.
In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018, photo, Fiona, a baby Nile Hippopotamus sleeps as visitors stop by her enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in Cincinnati. VOA

The Cincinnati Zoo’s famous premature baby hippo does more than delight social media fans and help sell a wide range of merchandise. She’s also an educational and literary force; heroine of a half-dozen books so far and a popular subject for library and classroom activities.

The latest book is “Saving Fiona” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) written by the zoo’s director, Thane Maynard.

“She has taught us a lot,” Maynard said. It’s believed Fiona is the smallest hippo ever to survive. Born nearly two months early, she was 29 pounds (13 kilograms), a third the size of a typical full-term Nile hippo and unable to stand or nurse.

A zoo staffer hand-milked her mother Bibi, and Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington helped develop a special formula. Nurses from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital were enlisted to put in a hippo IV.

“We were a nervous wreck every day,” Maynard said of Fiona’s first six months after her birth in January 2017.

His book is aimed at young readers, telling Fiona’s against-the-odds story while loading in facts about hippos, such as that they can outrun humans and are herbivores that can be dangerous because of their size of up to 5,000 pounds (2,267.96 kilograms).

“Part of the zoo’s mission is public education,” Maynard said. “(The book) is reaching kids and families with a message of hope … never giving up.”

The combined Fiona library of books by various authors and illustrators has sold tens of thousands so far.

In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018 photo, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Thane Maynard poses for a photograph beside the enclosure of Fiona, their baby Nile Hippopotamus, in Cincinnati.
In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018 photo, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Thane Maynard poses for a photograph beside the enclosure of Fiona, their baby Nile Hippopotamus, in Cincinnati. VOA

Educators say students are attracted to lessons themed around animals. Fiona has been on the cover of three Scholastic News Magazines that reached millions of students with stories accompanied by reading exercises or math formulas such as finding how many bathtubs the water in her zoo would fill.

“Everybody just falls in love with her,” said Stephanie Smith, editorial director for Scholastic News grades 3-6. “Kids will just gobble it up. It makes teaching easy.”

Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes regional director for the National Wildlife Federation, said conservationists see celebrity-type attention to Fiona that glosses over the serious challenges for hippos and other animals facing shrinking habitats and illegal hunting.

“There is a deeper message to be conveyed,” he said.

However, Shriberg, who said growing up in Cincinnati as a frequent zoo visitor helped lead him into wildlife conservation, said the Fiona mania – which has seen her image marketed on items from playing cards to beer – is a positive development overall.

Also read: South Africa in “Severe” Drought: To relieve impact Rangers kill 350 Hippos, Buffalos in Wildlife Park

“We are certainly in favor of anything that is engaging people with wildlife, and Fiona has been a phenomenal success,” he said. “You’ve got the American public and people around the world really caring about hippos and animals, through the lens of Fiona.” (VOA)

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Floods Directly Associated with increased Skin Infections in Humans

Also, visiting a board-certified dermatologist for skin-related problems is advisable

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Flooding in Texas. Wikimedia

Floods are associated with an increased risk of skin infections among humans, a skin expert has warned.

Skin and soft tissue infections can develop when injured skin is exposed to floodwaters containing sewage, chemicals and other pollutants, HealthDay reported.

In particular, natural disasters like tsunamis and hurricanes can cause major soil disruption that leads to the release of unusual infectious organisms.

“The health implications for people exposed to floodwaters are staggering and include a wide variety of dermatologic (skin) issues, such as wound infections, contact dermatitis and even electrical injuries from downed power lines,” said Justin Bandino, Assistant Professor at the San Antonio Military Medical Centre in the US.

“In cases when malnourished patients have not had access to food and clean water, even a small, superficial cut that has been exposed to these infectious organisms can result in a potentially dangerous infection,” he said.

Animals and insects also pose risks to flood victims. Bites from domesticated and non-domesticated animals increase as flooding forces them to compete with people for space in dry areas, said Bandino.

Australia, flood
The floods are the result of weeks of devastating rain in Queensland. Pixabay

In addition, stagnant floodwaters provide breeding areas for mosquitoes, which can lead to outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika or malaria.

One will need a basic first-aid kit that includes supplies for cleaning, covering and treating minor wounds, as well as insect repellent, Bandino suggested.

Further, keeping on hand a basic survival kit that includes non-perishable food and water supplies is essential to help reduce the chance of malnourishment and dehydration, which both increase the risk of infection.

Also Read- Women Working in Night Shifts Are on Higher Risk of Early Menopause

“Tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and other emergency situations can aggravate existing dermatologic conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis. When possible, take any medications for current skin conditions with you during an evacuation, along with other basic first-aid supplies; this can greatly reduce the opportunity for a flare,” said Bandino.

Also, visiting a board-certified dermatologist for skin-related problems is advisable, the expert added. (IANS)