Going Wild: Hippos Louise, Rosey

Published On: May 23 2014 07:53:00 PM HST

Hippos are big and tough. They are said to kill more people each year than lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinos combined.

Click here to watch Ashley Moser's report.

But, keepers at the Honolulu Zoo say hippos have a softer side as well and you could see that at morning snack time.

Zoo keepers fed hippos Louise and Rosey a bucket full of apples with ease. It's just a small portion of the 17 pounds of food each of them eat every single day.

"They're huge. The male hippos can reach up to 7,000 pounds. They are very large animals," said Adrienne Watkins.

Hippos are one of the largest animals in the world, and surprisingly, the most dangerous one in Africa. Keepers say it's because their mouth can be a lethal weapon.

"They can open their mouth about two feet, so that gives them extra room to open their mouth very wide. They can chomp a pontoon boat in half if they wanted to. They are extremely dangerous animals. We just see this cute side of them," said Adrienne.

But it's something about the way they move around in their exhibit that keepers say is interesting.

A common misconception is that hippos are excellent swimmers. Well that's actually not the case. They walk and bounce along the river bottom. If they get into water that's too deep, no worries; they can hold their breath for up to five minutes," said Adrienne.

Adaptations like being able to close their nostrils and feel around with their long whiskers help the hippos find food underwater.

To keep those skills sharp, keepers spread their meals all around their exhibit to get them moving.

"By scattering their diet they have to swim around and kind of search for it. Keeps their eyes sharp, keeps their sense of smell sharp," said Adrienne.

Something interesting about these animals is when it gets hot they sweat a red liquid.

It looks like blood, but it's actually a self-soothing mechanism that serves as a type of sunscreen for their body.


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