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World Hippopotamus Day

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.

VCG Photo

VCG Photo

World Hippopotamus Day takes place every year on February 15th. The day celebrates the third largest land mammal on earth. There are just two species (though a number of subspecies) of Hippopotamus, The Common or Nile Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius and its much smaller and rarer cousin the Pygmy Hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis.

The Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius is listed as vulnerable as the population is declining. The main threats are habitat loss, pollution and hunting for meat and ivory. Their tooth ivory is prized by some carvers as it is a softer material to work with than Elephant ivory.

Hippo Distribution


Some Hippopotamus Facts

1/ Their closest living relations are Whales and Dolphins.

2/ They are not related to Pigs.

3/ They are amongst the most dangerous animals in Africa.

4/ They can't swim. They run along the bottom of the river.

5/ Hippos leave the water to feed at night.

6/ They can hold their breath for up to five minutes.

7/ They give birth in the water.

8/ They are the third largest land mammal on earth.

9/ They are mainly herbivorous and feed on grass.

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10/ The name 'Hippopotamus' means Water Horse.

11/ Hippos secrete hipposudoric acid through their skin. It is reddish in colour and people formerly believed they sweated blood. In fact this is a sort of natural sunscreen and may have some antiseptic properties.

From Wikipedis

From Wikipedis

The interesting video below relates to 'Fiona' the Hippopotamus hand reared by the staff of Cincinnati Zoo.

Baby Hippo Fiona's Care Team Q&A with Visitors (Fiona Show S3 Ep 5) Cincinnati Zoo

The Smaller Cousin

The Hippopotamus smaller cousin is the Pygmy Hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis which is not as widespread, is classed as endangered and lives in the thick forests and swamps of West Africa, primarily Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Habits are not dissimilar to the Common Hippopotamus.

It is threatened by being hunted for bushmeat and habitat loss due to logging. They may sometimes be taken by predators such as crocodiles. They can weigh as much as 275 Kg.

Pygmy Hippopotamus breed well in captivity and there is a studbook for the species.

Pygmy Hippopotamus


The Cocaine Hippos

The drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar brought four Hippopotamus to his private zoo in Colombia in the 1970's. After his death in 1993 the Hippos were abandoned but have done very well without the presence of any predators. Today their are estimated to be around 80 living in the wild.

Pablo Escobar's 'Cocaine Hippos' Might Finally Need to Be Killed

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