Today is National Hippo Day – a day to show some appreciation for these majestic creatures, misunderstood by many. Despite being one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals on Earth, Hippos aren’t meat-eaters.

In fact, these mammals – like cows – are grazers. Being the third largest terrestrial mammal means eating approximately 88 pounds of grass during their five-hour grazing.

Their massive physique weighs more than 3 tons with a length of 10 to 14 feet. How do they support all that blubber you ask? Their webbed toes are strong enough to withstand all that mass.

Because hippos are found in sub-Saharan Africa where heat is constant; they spend most of their day floating in the river to cope.

Here’s what you probably didn’t know?

  • Hippopotamus means River Horse in Greek
  • If you see a red blood-like fluid coming out of the creature – it’s not blood. The fluid acts like sunblock lotion shielding them from the sun.
  • They are highly territorial and aren’t afraid to attack people in boats or charge at you on land.
  • Despite being land animals, the hippos closest relatives are whales and dolphins.
  • Hippos are really fast runners even though they weight a lot. They can pick up speed to 40 kilometres per hour.
  • According to the World Wide Fund (WWF), the Hippo species are vulnerable – which means their population is decreasing.
  • Their populations have declined by as much as 20% since 1996, only 2000 and 3000 individuals remain in the wild.

Where in Cape Town can you visit a Hippo?

Rondeveli Nature Reserve houses a small hippo population and is the only reserve in Cape Town to do so.

Address: Perth Rd & Fishermens Walk, Zeekoei Vlei, Cape Town, 7941

Contact: 021 706 2404 


Picture: Pixabay

Article written by