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The hippopotamus, or hippo, derives its name from ancient Greek for “river horse”. Hippos are primarily herbivores, although they have been known to nibble at animal carcasses. They spend an enormous amount of time in the water, around 16 hours, where they socialize and keep cool. The hippo does not graze when in water. It exits the water at dusk and can journey several kilometers to find nutrient grasses and herbs on which to feed. It will feed all night and make its way back to the water at dawn. Hippo trails are often well-worn from repeated use, and humans that are unfortunate to be in a hippo’s path as it’s returning to the water may not live to speak of it. When hippos are basking in the hot African sun, they may secrete an oily red substance which is often mistaken for blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that prevents their skin from drying out. The gestation period for the hippo is eight months and they normally bear one young every two years.

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