In last week’s post I introduced you to the names of groups of birds. This week let’s go big – taking a look at some of the largest animals on our planet that have so very apropos name descriptions, starting with the above hippos. First some fun facts:
- The name Hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek ‘river horse’.
- Hippos secrete an oily red substance which is actually skin moistener and sunblock and may also be anti-germicidal..
- An adult hippo needs to resurface every 3 – 5 mins to breathe and the process of surfacing and breathing is automatic, so even a hippo sleeping underwater will rise and breathe without waking.
- The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.
- Their closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoises, etc.) from which they diverged about 55 million years ago.
- The hippo species is classified as vulnerable with its population in decline.
Perhaps the most germane fact about hippos to this post is the fact that when they poop they spin their tails in order to spread their feces. The radius they cover with this spray is rather large – can reach up to 32 feet,
You can understand then why taking the top photo and the ones below was a bit tricky as I wanted to always be upwind. Unfortunately to get the best shot, this was not always possible – just imagine the scent around so many hippos performing their spinning ritual in the water.
A group of hippos is called a BLOAT.
Hippos bloats are not cohesive – the main reason they form is due to lack of water sources. Hippos are very territorially aggressive and they will often attack each other unless they are too enervated by the heat of the African sun.
Elephants on the other hand, are socially, organized and their groups are very emotionally close:
- Herds are led by a matriarch, usually the oldest female, and are made up of daughters, sisters and their offspring.
- Male elephants stay with the herd through adolescence and then move away as they grow older.
- Male elephants often stay independent, but sometimes band together in bachelor pods.
- Elephant herds range from 20 to 70 individuals.
- Not only are elephants extremely intelligent, they are also capable of sadness, joy, love, jealousy, fury, grief, compassion and distress.
- Elephants can become old-timers – living in the wild up to 70 years of age
An elephant herd is known as a PARADE
These gentle giants are also very social animals and they roam in groups of around 15 individuals and while elephant herds are led by a matriarch, giraffes are led by an adult male. Here are some other facts:
- Giraffes are the world’s tallest living land animals, with an adult male growing up to 18 feet tall
- Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up; they even sleep and give birth standing up so newborns can experience a drop at birth of about 5 feet. They quickly stand on their own within 30 minutes and are soon running.
- A giraffe’s spots are much like human fingerprints. No two individual giraffes have exactly the same pattern.
- In the wild giraffes usually live to 25 years of age
A group of giraffes is a TOWER.
More animal stories to come!