Common hippopotamus

Hippopotamus amphibius

IUCN status
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« The hippopotamus is considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. »

A humongous amphibious mammal

Much more at home in water than on land!

Although often simply called the “hippopotamus”, its true name is the common hippopotamus (or river hippopotamus) to differentiate it from the other species, the pygmy hippo. This semi-aquatic giant weighs up to 3 tonnes! It lives mainly in rivers or lakes, near to the pastures where it will find its food once evening comes. This impressive amphibious mammal, though clumsy on earth, becomes a picture of elegance and grace once in the water! Come and watch them bounding about in the water through the windows of the hippopotamus reserve.


Did you know?

Kiwi’s water ballet

The star of the reserve

The ZooParc de Beauval’s Hippopotamus Reserve offers one of a kind views of these impressive mammals. In this video, one of the female hippos, Kiwi, shows us the full extent of her aquatic prowess!

The Beauval Nature association

For the past 10 years, the Beauval Nature association has joined forces with field workers to support them in their primary mission of species conservation. Beauval works closely with numerous conservation and research programmes around the world to study and protect endangered species. This everyday action takes place in order to protect our biodiversity.


Kiwi, the hippo in socks

Arriving in Beauval in March 2016, Kiwi immediately showed her keepers that she had a very strong character. 

Today she is much calmer and shares her enclosure with Kvido and Bolinhas. 

She is fairly easy to recognise! You just need to look at her feet. Kiwi has white feet, like she is wearing socks!

Beauval Nature

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Learn more about the species

  • Diet
  • Gestation period
    8 months
  • Litter size
    1 young
  • Habitat
    Forests, Savannahs, Wetlands

When you’re eating well, you’re well

Eating is one of the most important things for the hippo. It is capable of walking several kilometres to find its favourite foods. Each night, up to 40 kilos of grass, reeds, and fruits will end up at the bottom of its stomach. This gastronome is a real-life food detector! Its hearing is so sensitive that it can hear fruit falling to the ground, accurately determining its location so that it can then feast.

The most dangerous African animal

Don’t be deceived by appearances! Despite its size and imposing weight, and although it looks quiet and peaceful, the hippopotamus is considered to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. Males can be particularly aggressive when defending their group and their territory. They are extremely dangerous when in the water and are capable of capsizing small boats and seriously injuring their occupants. But don’t think you’re safe on land. The hippopotamus can run at speeds of nearly 20 mph for several hundred metres: a performance almost matching that of record-breaking athletes!

Asleep in the watery depths…

The hippopotamus spends most of its time submerged. As it sinks down, its ears and nostrils automatically close! It must still come up to the surface every 5 minutes or so to breathe. Despite this, it is still quite possible to see a hippopotamus falling asleep in the depths of the water! The hippo can unconsciously steer itself to the surface and can therefore continue to sleep for many hours without ever running out of air.

Where can I see them in the park?

Take full advantage of the experience thanks to our mobile application!
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