(Hippopotamus amphibius)

There are two different variants in the hippo family, the hippo described here – also known as the 'river horse' – and the pygmy hippo. The large canines and incisors of hippos play a significant role in their everyday life. Hippos live in savannahs where they inhabit the banks of rivers and lakes.


Africa, Sub-Saharan

Open spaces by slow-moving rivers or lakes.


125,000 to 150,000

2.7 to 3 metres

1 to 3 tonnes

Gestation period
Approx. 8 months

Achievable age
between 30 to 40 years in human care

What you should know about hippos
The hippo is a happy-go-lucky contemporary. They snooze in the water during the day, where often only their ears, eyes and the nostrils of their powerful mouth peer out. They may even take a nice soak in the mud too. They become livelier at night and head to the shores where they can taste the succulent grass.

Underwater strolling
The animals dive under the water with their nostrils folded, allowing them to stay underwater for six minutes before they have to resurface once again. The mammals may actually even decide to take a short stroll along the riverbed.

Endangered pachyderms
The number of hippos has declined by an estimated 10 to 20 per cent within the last ten years. The reasons for this include the hunt for ivory, the incisors and canines of the animals, and the continuing loss of their habitat.

Is it true, that …?
Hippos really mark their territory with their dung? Absolutely! They make a big pile of manure and then fan this with their tail so that the manure is flung away – marking their territory in doing so. So the bigger the pile, the more that can be flung! Their counterparts can then identify by the amount of excrement, whether they can compete with the animal in the struggle for the territory or not.