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Batesville photographer snaps Fiona during unique shoot

Courtney Urash captured unique wedding photoshoot at zoo

(CINCINNATI) -- A local photographer had a unique session featuring one of Cincinnati's biggest celebrities, Fiona the Hippo.


Courtney Urash, of Batesville, owns Native Exposure Photo + Film and was asked to photograph a wedding at the Cincinnati Zoo last weekend.


A couple from Wisconsin had gotten engaged in front of the world-famous hippo and decided to also have their wedding at the zoo.


The bride contacted Urash to photograph the wedding and they bonded over their love for animals.


The zoo allows weddings during the off-season and the couple was able to secure a private interaction with the hippo.


"Fiona was great during the interaction. The real MVP was the keeper, she really was just amazing at getting Fiona to be comfortable enough to come up to us. You could tell that Fiona trusted her," Urash said.


Courtney has spent years photographing special occasions but admits she was a bit nervous during this session.


"At one point I was kind of dipping my camera a little too far over and Fiona jumped so close she almost kissed my camera. It was a wild experience. Once I found the right angle to get the couple and Fiona I snapped away," she said.


The intimate zoo experience ranks among Courtney's favorite sessions she's had through her business.

"When I was younger I wanted to be a wildlife photographer. The ones that sit out in crazy weather and wait for the right moment. I got to photograph the wild animal though it wasn’t in her natural habitat it was still kind of a dream come true moment for me. Being up close but not super personal with Fiona was epic," the Batesville native said.

Urash owns Native Exposure Photo + Film

Urash credits zoo personnel for allowing the unique opportunity and was impressed by the work that happens when nobody is watching.


"It was weird being at the zoo after hours and even after dark but man do they have that place locked down. They check on the animals and do their rounds all through the night. A lot goes into running the zoo and making sure the animals are safe," Courtney said.


She adds that she was honored to work alongside the zoo and also credits her photographer, Amanda, for helping during the day.


"While I was photographing the couple with Fiona - she was snapping photos of the private cheetah show they had set up for their guest. She said the cheetah liked her camera and kept stalking her," exclaimed Urash.


Fiona wasn't the only animal to get involved in the wedding as there was a cocktail hour set up in front of the lions and that's not all.


"They also had a penguin walk down the isle before they got married in front of the giraffes!"


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