World hippo day is a special day to celebrate the world’s third-largest land mammal Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius). Every year it is observed on 15 February all across the globe. Hippos are native across Sub-Saharan Africa, now restricted to the eastern and southeastern parts of Africa.
They are the largest after Elephants and Rhinos. To acknowledge their importance, we toast this special day.
National Hippo Day in History
The hippos can be traced back to the image of the ancient Egyptian goddess Taweret and are frequently described in African folktales. They were the center of a celebration in Africa, Cherishing by the Zulu Warriors. It indicates their long existence journey.
Hippo Day Timeline at a glance
- Evaluation of the Hippos: Almost 60 million years ago, the ancestor of the hippopotamus split into two branches, and one of the branches evolved into today’s Hippopotamidae.
- Pygmy Hippo Discovering: To our surprise, in 1913, a German animal collector discovered a pygmy hippo. This unique species is much smaller than common gigantic hippos weighing only 400-600 pounds.
- Attempt to import to the US: in 1920, the US Senate tried to pass the importation of Hippo bill to aid the American meat crisis and control water hyacinth.
- Importation of the Hippo: in 1980, Pablo Escobar successfully Imported Four Hippos to his estate in Colombia.
- Announcement of Vulnerability: The International Union for Conservation of Nature identified Hippos as vulnerable species on their red list in 2006.
- Current status: the IUCN’s recent report says there are only 115,000-130,000 individual hippos in the world. The conservation body tags it as “precarious” and announces their conservation action as “a priority”.
Is Hippo Important?
Even though it’s not apparent, every animal provides some benefits to nature. Hippos play a vital role in Africa’s aquatic ecosystem. They throw mud at others to communicate superiority among themselves.
In turn, Hippos provide 60,000 kilograms of dung annually into the river. Some river fish need dung in their diet. The wastage of hippopotami also diffuses vast amounts of nutrients and energy in the wildlife system.
7 Amazing Facts About Hippos
- Hippopotamus translates to ‘River horse’ in greek. The name is well served, as this mammal stays most of the time underwater!
- Hippos have a natural sunscreen on their skin. When sunbathing, They diffuse an oily reddish-orange slime that shields their skin from dangerous microorganisms and UV radiation.
- Hippos are related to whales. Based on fossil records, they share the same semi-aquatic ancestors that existed around 55 million years ago.
- Hippos resurface every 3-5 minutes to breathe without waking up when sleeping underwater.
- Even though Hippos spend most of their time in the water, they can not swim. They only run along the water bottom and follow the current!
- They live in herds, which are mostly dominated by a male Hippo.
- Hippos can weigh almost 2000 kg and still manage to run at 30 km/h!
How to Celebrate the World Hippo Day
Although hippos are not a common sight in the human locality, there are a few options you can try to celebrate the life of these semi-aquatic mammals:
Visit a zoo: Hippos are present in most zoos and safari parks in major cities. They are herbivores with an appetite of 80 lbs of grass. You can pay a visit and offer them some short grasses.
Post on social media: post some cute photos and videos of Hippos on your timeline and let people know you care for them!
Watch a film featuring Hippos: our favorite character ‘Gloria’ from the film “Madagascar” is a hippo. You can stream movies starring hippos such as Hugo the hippo, Meet the Feebles, The Hippopotamus, or even Disney’s Fantasia featuring a ballet-dancing hippo – so many options for a movie night!
Donate to hippo foundations: They are foundations working for the betterment of hippo life-health. These foundations may require extensive funds for research and resource allocation. Donations to these foundations can facilitate hippo sustainability.
The Message of World Hippo Day
The population of hippos is in critical numbers now. They are at constant risk as humans kill them for several reasons, including for food, ivory tusk, making luxury items of their skin and teeth, and even lowering human-wildlife conflict.
River horses also suffer from habitat loss resulting from settlements, infrastructure building of roads, and increasing agricultural production sites.
Consequently, the home of these mammals are being destroyed and their means of survival. Hippos are susceptible to extinction for all these reasons, with about 115,000 to 130,000 remaining. Hence, this day aims to raise awareness of threatened hippo species.
World hippo day resembles the need for hippos in the world and works towards impacting their betterment. We all should observe this special day with passion and spread the message of its importance to others. Hopefully, with our integrated effort, we will be able to make the world a better place for our endangered animals.
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- Hippo Life Cycle | How Long Does A Hippo Live?
- Pygmy Hippo vs Regular Hippo | Comparison
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- Why are Hippos so Big | Is Hippo Really Fat?
- Can Hippos Jump? Explained
- Do Hippos Eat Fish | Animalia Facts
- Do Hippos Eat Their Young? Is it True or Myth?
- What is a Group of Hippos Called? Social Lives of Hippo