True story. The hippopotamus, whose name comes from two Greek words, ‘Hippo’ and ‘potamus’ standing for ‘horse’ and ‘river’ respectively (the River Horse), is the third largest land mammal with only the elephant and rhinoceros coming before it. It is also the heaviest extant artiodactyl (animals of its kind). The hippo is a distant relative of the whale and they are believed to share a common ancestor-the now extinct line of ‘hoofed predators’ which had the famous ‘wolf-sheep’ Andrewsarchus.
The female hippo spawns one calf at a given time and the hiatus lasts for between 2-3 years. The expectant mother will go into isolation 10 to 44 days before and after giving birth. The calf will then be nursed for 12 months, being accorded top security by the mother. This is a no-no to anyone who intends to threaten the young one-even the mighty lion knows when to keep his distance.
The mother hippo feeds the baby with highly nutritious milk that has surprised many due to its pink color. You might wonder what gives it its pink color. The answer lies behind two unique acid secretions from the mother-Hipposudoric acid(blood sweat-due to its reddish color) and Norhipposudoric acid (bright orange in color)-names which have been coined from the word Hippopotamus.
These acids also double up as much-needed sunscreen. The milk is more than just the coloration. A single cup contains 500 calories and unlike other mammals, hippo milk can be suckled under water, when the calf takes a deep breath, closes the nostrils and ears before wrapping its tongue around the teat and down to business.