Hip-hippo-hooray – it’s time to celebrate hippopotami. In anticipation of World Hippo Day on 15 February 2019, we have this adorable photo sequence of a mother hippo and her baby on their way to a waterhole in the Kruger National Park. By Gaynor Siljeur
There are few things on Earth cuter than a baby hippo. Nobody can better attest to the fact than Wild traveller and keen photographer Mohammed Jinnah. On a visit to Kruger in June 2018, Mohammed and his family had the most wonderful sighting of a cuddlesome youngster.
The Jinnahs had entered the park at Phabeni Gate and were making their way to Skukuza on the S1 when they came across a hippo cow. The protective mother was leading her calf to Nyamundwa Dam to join the rest of the hippo pod.
“This was without a doubt the smallest hippo we have ever seen. We were very excited to find the mother and baby out of the water and interacting,” Mohammed recalled.
They watched spellbound as the duo slowly made their way to the rest of the pod with the mother lovingly showing the baby the ropes.
To the delight of the calf, the pair came across a lone hippo on their path and the baby happily greeted the other hippo.
“It was such a precious moment, the way the baby hippo opened her mouth in the typical hippo gape,” Mohammed told us.
After this adorable interaction, the mother reached the pod and settled in with her cheerful baby by her side.
In the bush you will often see hippos sunbathing on the banks of waterholes or spot their eyes and ears sticking out above the surface of the water. But how much do you really know about hippos? Here are some weird and wonderful facts about these big and beautiful wild animals:
Four fascinating hippo facts
Quick for their size
Given their size, hippos have a short gestation period of eight months − the growth of the foetus in the womb is incredibly fast. The gestation period of black rhinos, which are a similar size, is almost twice as long.
In deep waters
A hippo calf will rest on its mother’s back when they are in deep water.
Have you ever noticed how a hippo’s skin shines? The sheen on a hippo’s skin is caused by a special secretion from their skin called hipposudoric acid. This secretion contains chemicals to prevent dehydration, protect against sunburn and disinfect their wounds.
One of a kind
A hippo’s tracks do not resemble any other animal’s in the wild. This wondrous giant has four rounded toes with a horny hoof on each foot.
Also read: 10 Surprising hippo facts