Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the hippo – a massive animal that loves water which is where their name comes from – the ancient Greeks named them “river horses.” You might already know that a large male hippo can weigh well over three tons – but that’s just the start of some interesting things we’ve uncovered about hippos for today’s very special Africa Fact Friday.
Think you can outrun a 6,000 pound animal with tiny legs? Think again. Hippos, over short distances, can easily outrun a human and have been clocked at 20 miles an hour. This, and the fact that it is surprising that a hippo can run so fast, make the hippo one of the deadliest animals in Africa. Far more people die each year in hippo attacks than they do in elephant or lion attacks.
Hippo facts start early with the amazing. A baby hippo is born underwater and must swim to get its first breath. The average baby hippo is over four feet in length and weighs approximately one hundred pounds. They get big fast because hippos eat – a lot. They’ll often eat over one hundred pounds of vegetation during the day as they float around, let’s call that their lunch. For dinner, overnight, they will climb out of the water when it’s dark and eat another hundred and fifty pounds of grass.
Hippos are native to approximately 30 countries in Africa and our friends at African Impact run a lot of volunteer projects that you might want to check out if you are interested in seeing these really amazing creatures. But again, if you run into a hippo, don’t try and run away from the same hippo – see above.
Last week, we talked about how close chimpanzees are to humans so we are sure by now you are wondering – well what’s the hippo’s closest living relative? The answer is the whale.
If you were to run into a hippo and if you wanted to break the ice and have a chat, you could start by asking a hippo how they produce a natural sunscreen which is a very useful trait in Africa, and then when the conversation got going a bit, you could ask the question that we really want to know the answer to –
Mother hippos produce pink milk.
How the heck does that happen? Let us know what you find out.
Don’t forget – Travel On The Good can give you lots of great chances to see hippos – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa – they all have a lot of hippos. We’re especially big on the hippos in Zambia just so you know.