Wednesday, 16 December 2015

For Hippos, Their Charismatic Looks Won't Keep Them Safe


Julie Larsen Maher is staff photographer for the WildlifeConservation Society (WCS), and the first woman to hold the position since the society's founding in 1895. In addition to documenting conservation work in some of WCS' 500 field programs in 60 countries around the world, Maher photographs animals and events at WCS' five New York-based wildlife parks: the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo. The author contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. 

With a name derived from the Greek words for "river horse," hippopotamuses are semiaquatic herbivores that live their lives in water, except for evening rituals when they follow well-worn paths up riverbanks to feeding grounds. Low-slung with big bellies, hippos appear awkward on land , but they are fast runners for their size (more than 9,000 pounds for some adult males) and can cover great distances when defending their territory or searching for food. Male hippos regularly take over a length of riverbank to establish mating territory. Sometimes, these squatting rights result in fierce battles, during which the males bellow loudly and bare their huge canine teeth. 

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