Monday, April 8, 2013

H is for Hippopotamus

Hippos can be jolly chaps and chapesses at the movies and in entertainment. The Disney film Fantasia featured a ballerina hippopotamus dancing to the opera La Gioconda, while the hippopotamus characters "Happy Hippos" were created in 1988 by the French designer Andre Roche.

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.


(Peter Lindren)


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



40 comments:

  1. It's hard to believe that hippos are herbivores! Why do they attack humans if not to eat them?

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    1. well Dee I'd say they are just big miserable old customers.

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  2. I feel like a Baby Hippo at the moment....in serious need to loose a few pounds

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    1. aw - well after the stuff fest I've being having of late I can concur..

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  3. I saw hippos in Africa and was just fascinated by them! They look so placid in the water with the only real action being a yawn. But then I heard the fact about them being the animal that is the biggest killer of humans in Africa - incredible!

    http://www.mydestinationunknown.com
    A to Z Participant (A to Z of Travel Bucket List Inspiration)

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    1. it is Kellie - although the table I saw said lions and elephants accounted for slighly more human deaths, was surprised by elephants.

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  4. Hi David, thanks for visiting my blog. I love your theme and yes you are finding facts about our animal friends that are a little gruesome. Let us squirm - although I have always had issues with baboon bums

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    1. ah yes the Cirtus Grove - interesting blog. Lol hope you managed to check out my baboob bum post..

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  5. Having just been to a zoo this weekend, I'm enjoying catching up on the A-Z animal series! But this post now has me singing Flight of the Choncords' hiphopapotamus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FArZxLj6DLk

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    1. Cool Valley Writer - am so going to check this out now.

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  6. I've been enjoying your animal series. I've always thought of hippos as rather tranquil animals, but now I know different. It does explain why they had to close down the hippo exhibit at our zoo.

    TaMara
    Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

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    1. Oh wow Tamara - for real? Maybe they had some of those cocaine hippos and they were dealing.

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    2. Our zoo has had some issues over the years. About 5 years ago, they had a gorilla escape its enclosure and run around the zoo. They had to put the place on lockdown until it was caught.

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  7. Not a fan of the hippo.....I've heard bad things. Cartoon and stuffed toy hippos are cute but not the real thing!

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    1. I'd say they are badass JoJo, not that you are likelt to encounter one.

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  8. Hippos are really bad news. See they have this pathway they use to and from their lake or river. And if you're in it, they run right over you. Which is one cause for so many deaths.

    As far as I knew, though, they kill more than elephants. :-'

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    1. OMG - you sounds like you are in the know Misha - you from South Africa?

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  9. I alwasy though of them as ponderous, clumpy animals but not actually aggressive. My take was that once they moved and got into fast run mode they couldn't stop. I've learned more today about that nasty streak!Nancy at Welcome to she said, he said
    #atozchallenge

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    1. I know not so nice Nancy - thanks for visiting will check out your blog.

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  10. I remember reading about how aggressive hippos are and I was surprised. The article talked about how hippos are portrayed as gentle and fun while people think rhinos are scary, when really it's the other way around. Rhinos are just so homely I guess they get a bad rap.

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    1. I know Julie and I feel sorry for rhinos because they are so endangered.

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  11. Great idea for the A to Z Challenge! Very interesting!

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    1. Thanks Kat - easier than last year - thansks for stopping by.

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  12. 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.- LOL!

    Their toileting habits are rather gross.

    I remember David Attenborough saying they were terribly aggressive. They fool you with their cuteness and then when your close enough, defecate on you and charge. Clever really.

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    1. tis an nice trick Juliette - and they look like Peter Beardsley on a bad night.

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  13. Note to self, Never sell a house to a hippo! Great post, David. Made me laugh. :)

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    1. always glad I can make you chuckle Daisy.

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  14. With teeth like that, it's easy to believe their breath is horrible. Euw!

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    1. I know Jean - I found a fine specimen there, a dentist's dream lol

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  15. I'm trying to figure out how this relates to a Brit in America...and then I'm thinking: who cares? HIPPOS!

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    1. well good point Daniel. They are only indiginous to Wales..

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  16. I liked the hippos in Fantasia but I sure wouldn't want to run into one for real!

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    1. nope they have no redeeming qualities - thanks for the visit mshatch..

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  17. I remember when I learned hippos weren't the calm creatures I thought they were. My world was shocked. lol

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    1. it is a life-changing experienced Patricia..

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  18. Hey fellow Brit, I didn't know hippos kill so many people a year...we never hear about those deaths but we hear about all the shark ones...strange.

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    1. you're right Rowena - we Brits are shielded from hippo brutality :)

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  19. Found your blog thanks to the Challenge!

    This was a fun post. Hippos do look deceptively cuddly. I saw a show on Animal Planet that said they kill more people each year than crocs. I was surprised!

    Great post and nice to "meet" you,
    Jen

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Jen - will check out your shortly. I know they are rather aggressive.

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