World Hippo Day Date in the current year: February 15, 2024

World Hippo Day World Hippo Day is observed annually on February 15. It was created to celebrate one of the most extraordinary animals on our planet and raise awareness of its vulnerable status.

The common hippopotamus, typically referred to as simply hippopotamus or hippo for short, is a large semiaquatic mammal in the family Hippopotamidae. The only other extant member of the family is the pygmy hippopotamus that is much smaller than the common hippopotamus. The name “hippopotamus” is translated as “river horse” from ancient Greek.

The hippo is the third largest land animal on Earth after the elephant and the rhino. Although hippos physically resemble pigs and some other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives are aquatic mammals such as dolphins, porpoises, and whales.

Hippos inhabit rivers, lakes, and mangrove swamps in sub-Saharan Africa (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Gambia, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda). There is a small introduced population of hippos in Colombia; they are descended from the four hippos that escaped from Pablo Escobar’s private menagerie upon his death in 1993.

Hippos stay partially submerged in water or mud during the day to keep their bodies cool and emerge at dusk to graze on grasses. A hippo can travel up to 3 miles and eat around 90 lbs of grass during the night. Despite being herbivorous, the hippo is one of the world’s most dangerous animals due to its huge size and aggressive nature.

Their extreme aggressiveness and unpredictability allows hippos to coexist with large predators, although crocodiles, lions and hyenas occasionally prey on young hippos. Hippos may also attack humans; according to BBC Wildlife Magazine, hippopotamus attacks cause an estimated 500 deaths per year.

The hippopotamus is listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Its stable population is estimated between 115,000 and 130,000 animals. The main threats faced by hippos are habitat loss and poaching for meat and tusks (hippo teeth are a valuable source of ivory). The situation is especially dire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conservation efforts have been undermined by political instability.

The origins of World Hippo Day are unclear, but it was most likely created by a conservation organization or a concerned individual to promote hippo conservation. Today, the holiday is celebrated and supported by conservation organizations, nature parks, zoos, and other stakeholders around the world.

You can celebrate World Hippo Day by checking out the hippo exhibit at your local zoo if it has one or even going to a safari if you have the time and money for it, watching a film featuring hippos (for example, Madagascar, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Fantasia, Sing, Zootopia or Congo), learning interesting facts about these amazing animals and sharing them with anyone who is willing to listen, donating to an animal conservation organization that saves hippos, and spreading the word about the holiday on social media using the hashtag #WorldHippoDay.

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International Observances, Ecological Observances


World Hippo Day, international observances, environmental observances, hippopotamus conservation, vulnerable species