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National Hippo Day: What to know about these 'river horses'

To celebrate National Hippo Day, we wanted to give you the scoop on what they're all about.
Credit: Saint Louis Zoo

ST. LOUIS – Friday is National Hippo Day!

To celebrate, we wanted to give you the scoop on what hippos are all about.

Large and in charge 

Hippopotamuses are the second-largest land animal in existence, making elephants the largest. Males can weigh more than 6,000 pounds and females top out around 3,000.

But even with their massive size, hippos can run faster than humans – up to 30 miles per hour!

Credit: Saint Louis Zoo

‘River Horse’ 

The word hippopotamus means "river horse" in Greek which is appropriate as they spend most of their life in the water. Blubber on their bodies makes them buoyant so they can float.

Their heads are also built for the water. Their eyes, nostrils and ears sit on the top of their heads, so they can get most of their bodies under water while still being able to see, smell and hear what’s happening around them on land.  

Credit: Saint Louis Zoo

Hungry, hungry…

Hippos spend most of their nights eating grass. They use their wide mouths to graze the grass down to a few inches from the ground over large areas.

Hippos can eat up to 90 pounds of grass in one night!

Credit: Saint Louis Zoo

Other Fun Facts 

  • A hippo’s skin oozes pink 'slime' that protects them from getting a sunburn
  • Hippos can’t produce sweat so staying in the water helps cool them down
  • A hippo’s bellow (deep roaring sound) can be louder than a heavy-metal band playing 15 feet away
  • Hippos give birth in the water. The 50-100-pound babies surface right after birth to take their first breaths

Information in this story came from the Saint Louis Zoo's website. 

Smile, it's National Hippo Day! The Saint Louis Zoo is home to three female Nile hippopotami: Tombi, Mashavu and Kiboko. Did you know that a hippo spends most of its life in the water and can hold...

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