Most names have a story behind them. Some are named after someone special in their life — a beloved grandparent or older family member, a hero, or a favorite book character. But the story behind little Fiona Shephard’s name might be the most unique ever.
Fiona’s parents named her after a famous hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo.
Kerbe Shephard loved the Cincinnati Zoo since she was little and was excited to take her own children there one day. But that was delayed after she and her husband David moved to Florida. Their 3-year-old son Bryce was able to know the Cincinnati zoo from books. And it features its most famous resident: Fiona the hippo.
Fiona was six weeks premature when she was born in 2017. But the zoo staff made sure she received all the love and care she needed. Now, the hippo is a healthy 4-year-old.
When Kerbe and her family moved back to Ohio, they visited the zoo right away.
“She is such a success story, and we fell even more in love with her when we met her at the zoo. Every time we have seen her, she has been active, swimming, and loving on her mama!” Kerbe said. “The last time we were there, Bryce said, ‘Mommy, I could stay here and watch Fiona ALL day!’”
When Bryce found out he’s going to be a big brother, he was very excited. He even took an interest in naming the baby. His suggestion? Fiona, of course!
“Bryce was so excited to tell me when I got home from work that he knew the perfect name for his baby sister,” his mom said. “My husband and I laughed, ‘OK, buddy! That sounds great… we’ll add it to the list!’ — knowing that we had other plans for names and we certainly wouldn’t name our daughter after a hippo.”
When the Shephard family visited the zoo with some friends on July 4, Kerbe started to feel labor pains. She wasn’t due for over a month.
Thankfully, their baby girl was relatively healthy at 5 pounds, despite being born early,
When Kerbe held her for the first time, she couldn’t get over the way her daughter wiggled her eyes open and stared at her. That’s when it hit her: Their story was strikingly similar to Fiona the hippo.
“She knew my voice and was comforted by her Mama — again, just like the beautiful bond between Fiona the hippo and her mother,” Kerbe said. “We also knew at that moment her name couldn’t be anything besides Fiona. It just FIT; it was fate.”
Along with going into labor prematurely at the zoo, like Fiona the hippo’s mom, Kerbe noticed their babies’ similar health journeys. Just as the baby hippo went through health complications, her baby Fiona had some of her own.
Fiona was born with Down syndrome.
Several months later, the family was finally able to introduce Fiona to her hippo namesake.
“We are so in love,” Kerbe said. “We hope this story brings joy to someone and grows awareness for the Down syndrome population, not as a negative connotation or something to feel ‘sorry’ about… but to realize the potential of these awesome individuals! The sky is the limit for all as long as they are given the opportunity to reach for the stars.”
Source: Inspire More