How much do you know about hippos? Most people know some facts about the hippopotamus. Safari guests can often tell us that hippos are herbivores and feed on grass, they like to stay in the water most of the day and some guests even know that hippos can hold their breath for about seven minutes. Perhaps our guests may have read these, and other facts in our popular blog 10 Fascinating Facts About Hippos. There is so much to know about hippos so we asked our safari guides to share their most interesting hippo stories and lesser-known facts about these odd animals. Read on to get to know more about the hippo.
Did You Know This About Hippos?
- Fossils of an ancient hippo-like reptile have been found in Poland. Researchers estimate that the fossils are around 300 to 250 million years old.
- Bones of hippos have been found in very odd places, including London's Trafalgar Square. Paleontologist Tori Herridge believes that the same species of hippopotamus that is now only found in Africa lived all over Europe. She says you could have seen a hippo swimming in the Thames 125,000 years ago! You can even see a hippo tusk found in Trafalgar Square in the British Natural History Museum.
- In 2010 researchers found that large numbers of fish were dying in the Mara River in Kenya. The cause? Too many hippos, especially in a small amount of water. There was too much hippo dung in the water and the microbes digesting the faeces depleted the water's oxygen levels. This meant there was not enough oxygen left in the water for the fish and other aquatic creatures to survive.
- It is estimated that hippo kill about 500 people in Africa every year. Hippos are listed in the BBC's list of the world's top six deadliest animals.
- Along with elephants and rhinos, hippos are also being poached at an unsustainable rate. Hippos teeth, which are similar to elephant ivory, are also falsely believed to have medicinal properties. They are also used to create carved curios in South East Asian markets.
- Bertie, a male hippopotamus who lived to 58 in the Denver Zoo, is the world's oldest recorded hippo with verified records, according to zoo officials. A hippo known as Bertha was believed to have lived to 65 in the Manila Zoo in the Philippines. Her age could not be verified as the zoo has no paperwork on her origins. The normal life span of a wild hippo is around 40 years.
- There are very few records of "tame" hippo. We were very surprised to hear about a hippo called Jessica who lives in a house in Hoedspruit, South Africa. She was rescued when she was abandoned at a few days old. Jessica loves to drink Rooibos tea, has her own room and shares a mattress in the house with her best friends, five English bull terriers!
Interesting Hippo Stories & Facts
Did you learn any other interesting stories or lesser known facts about hippos from your Kariega safari guide? Perhaps you had an encounter with hippos on your game drives during your stay at Kariega Game Reserve? Please share your photos, videos and stories with us via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. We would also like to read your comments.
Get to know more about hippos:
- Video: 10 Fascinating Facts About Hippos
- Kariega Hippo Bears His Teeth
- Video: Night of the Hungry Hippos
- Eastern Cape Hippo
Photographs thanks to guest Andrew Colgan and Kariega guide Brendon Jennings.