(Hippopotamus amphibius)




Facts about this animal

The Hippopotamus has a barrel-shaped body, with short, stumpy legs and a large head adapted for an aquatic life. The eyes, ears and nostrils are placed on the same level at the top of the head. The head-body length is 320-420 cm in males and 280-370 cm in females, the height is 130-165 cm. Males weight about 1500-3200 kg, females 1350-2500.


The upper part of the body is grey-brown to blue-black, the lower part is pinkish. The skin is adapted to aquatic life and the rate of water loss on land is considerably higher than in other mammals. The gestation lasts eight months and the litter size is one or rarely two. The female has one pair of mammae. The young were born underwater, the weight at birth is 35-55 kg.

Did you know?
that more people are killed every year by hippos than by any other wild animal in Africa?


Name (Scientific) Hippopotamus amphibius
Name (English) Hippopotamus
Name (French) Hippopotame
Name (German) Flußpferd
Name (Spanish) Hipopótamo anfibio
Local names Afrikaans: Seekoei
chiShona: Mvuu, ngwindi
isiNdebele, isiXhhosa, isiZulu, siSwati: Imvubuki
Swahili: KibokosePedi
seSotho, seTswana, siLozi: Kubu
tshiVenda: Mvuvhuxi
Tsonga: Mpfubu, mpfuvu
Somali: Jeer
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



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Vladimír Motyčka



Range Sub-Saharan Africa
Habitat Rivers and lakes surrounded by grasslands
Wild population Between 125.000-148.000 (Red ListIUCN 2011)
Zoo population 347 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Requirement 71 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Road transport (according to the South African Standard SANS 10331): Tranquillize and transport bulls and aggressive cows separately in individual compartments in a mass crate. Several calves of approximately the same size can be transported in a single compartment under tranquillization. The roof of the crate should be solid and low (± 1,6 m) to prevent the animals from rearing up on their hind legs.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The hippopotamus is not an endangered species. Zoos keep it primarily for educational reasons because of its aquatic lifestyle and anatomical peculiarities. As a charismatic megavertebrate it is also a corner stone for displaying wetland habitats and a good ambassador for in situ conservation projects (see Luangwa Wilderness e.V. - Managing Luambe National Park, Zambia ).

The zoo population is self-sustained. Because of restrictive veterinary import regulations AZA and ARAZPA run coordinated breeding programmes at the regional level.