Last year, I was going through a rough time, okay? Donald Trump had won the presidency, ushering in an era of precedented but no less upsetting racism and national stupidity; I was stressed and burned out; as my biological clock struck 27ish, some gnarly cystic acne began to torment my lip and chin area. I was in a dark place. But then someone knelt down via her stubby little hooves, nuzzled me with her wide snout, and lifted me up. And now it’s time to celebrate her: my spiritual strength, my grey, rubbery, bean-shaped heart, Fiona the Hippo, who is one-year-old today.

And in her one year on Earth, she has become impressively cultured, sampling foods and experiences from all over her portion of the Cincinnati Zoo.

She’s been rubbed down with lotion:

She’s gotten a ramp for her pool:

She’s sampled hay:

She reached a milestone:

She’s explored a big space:

She’s tested her speed:

She’s reached another milestone, when she moved to the adult pool:

As a hefty and magnificent six-month-old, she got her first taste of solid food:

She received a Christmas gift, even though she is agnostic, I’m pretty sure:

She ate snow with her mother:

Fiona, you are as kind as you are sensual; as beautiful as you are wise; a wonderful friend and mentor, who has held my hoof through times good and bad. I’m so thrilled to see the woman you’re turning into and excited to see what you will achieve in the year ahead. You have a saint-like devotion to neighborliness and Kardashian-like devotion to fashion; the body of an Olympic gymnast and of a sectional sofa. You are my style icon, my daughter, my mother, my heart. May every year be as fruitful and full of discoveries as this one. Amen.

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