This idea of cuddly hippos, in reality, is far of the mark. Hippos are big, bad and dangerous to know. They are also very ugly and one time at the zoo when a hippo unleashed its vast mouth to yawn served to remind yours truly and onlookers within a radius of two miles that hippos have halitosis the like of nobody's business. Don't waste your money on Altoids, folks.
The purpose of my A to Z series on animals seems to be to gross out people as much as possible, although, I didn't start out with that intention. Still from baboons' bums to sharks cannibalising each other in the womb, it seems to have happened hasn't it?
I'm not sure if I can better that with hippos, although I can confirm hippos mark their territory by spinning their tails while defecating to distribute their excrement over a greater area. They pee backwards for the same reason. Realtors beware. If you are trying to sell a house to a hippo, run for the hills long before he tells you he'll buy.
Hippos live in sub Saharan Africa and are big, weighing 3 to 9 tons. In fact, only two land animals are bigger - the elephant and the rhinoceros.
Although many people think they are related to pigs, given their resemblance to pigs, their closest living relatives are, in fact, cetaceans which include whales and porpoises, although the species went their separate ways 55 million years ago.
Hippos are also rather badass. They are very aggressive animals, even though they are herbivores. Think of the most scary vegan you know, and add 200 Big Macs (stuffed full of soy), permi PMS and a devotion to Charles Manson.
Hippos kill about 200 people a year, which is more than double that of sharks, although more people are killed by elephants. They even scare the hell out of crocodiles. Wikipedia notes they are "very aggressive towards humans, whom they commonly attack whether in boats or on land with no apparent provocation. They are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa."
Zulu warriors preferred to be as brave as a hippopotamus; even lions were not considered as fearsome.
Another notable fact about hippos is men and lady hippos just about look the same; which has led a few foolhardy entrepreneurs to market hippo handbags to females, with varying degrees of success.
Useless Fact About the Hippopotamus
Infamous Colombian drug warlord Pablo Escobar, a man who brought in more money than the GDP of Colombia through coke sales, also had a thing for importing hippos. Managing the aggressive hippos, commonly referred to as the "cocaine hippos," has become a major issue for the Colombian government since the death of Escobar because the big old hippos are on the rampage with no known predators.
What Not To Say to a Hippo
You really float my boat