Pygmy Hippo Day is celebrated on April 8 to raise awareness about the endangered species of hippos. A pygmy hippo is the smaller cousin of a hippopotamus. They are an endangered species that are rapidly moving towards extinction. There are about 2,000 pygmy hippos left in the world, and these are mainly found in Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Pygmy hippos are about half the height of a hippopotamus and weigh less than a quarter of a full-sized hippo. They are believed to have diverged from the common hippo about 10 million years ago.
History of Pygmy Hippo Day
The name hippopotamus is derived from the Greek for ‘river horse,’ which is an apt description for the pygmy hippo as it spends much of its time in rivers or swamps. Today only two species of the hippopotamus are left in the world. One is the large, strong amphibious hippopotamus, and the other is the smaller, more terrestrial pygmy hippo hexaprotodon liberiensis. Whereas the fossil records reveal that there was a far greater number of species, which were distributed over a far larger area than that is associated with hippos today.
The pygmy hippos were discovered in 1849, and in 1852 they were deemed unique enough to have their own genus, Choeropsis. However, in the 1970s, it was observed that they were similar to the fossil hippos included in Hexaprotodon, and during the 1990s, the pygmy hippo began to be viewed as the surviving member of the Hexaprotodon radiation.
The oldest fossil of modern hippos, clade Hippopotamine within Hippopotamidae, is found in the Upper Miocene of eastern Africa. Archaic hippos, which are outside of the crown groups, do extend the record back somewhat further. Kenyapotamus is known from the middle, and Upper Miocene of Kenya, Tunisia, and Ethiopia, and two additional taxa- Morotochoerus from Uganda and Kulutherium are from Kenya, both from the Lower Miocene.
Pygmy Hippo Day timeline
It was common in Egypt’s Nile region during antiquity, and according to Pliny the Elder, the best location to capture it was in the Saite nome.
The pygmy hippos are discovered in 1849, and in 1852, they are deemed unique enough to have their own genus, Choeropsis.
The hippo population declines in Virunga National Park from 29,000 to 800.
Due to greater enforcement and cooperation between Virunga National Park authorities and fishermen, the hippo population increases again.
Pygmy Hippo Day FAQs
When is National Hippo Day?
National Hippo Day is celebrated on February 5.
Are hippos endangered?
Hippos are considered vulnerable as their population has decreased in the past decade by seven to 20%.
Can hippos give birth to twins?
Though a major anomaly, there have been 11 confirmed cases of twins being born to hippos.
Pygmy Hippo Day Activities
Research about hippopotamus and what threatens their existence. Read how we can help to make life easy for them.
Spread awareness about the malpractice, which is posing a danger to hippos' lives. Make people vigilant and start petitions.
Volunteer to help in any possible way. Volunteer and donate to save the lives of hippos.
5 Interesting Facts About Hippopotamus
They are herbivores
Hippos are herbivores and eat on average 80 pounds of grass.
They are the third-largest mammals
They are the third-largest mammals on Earth after Elephants and White Rhinos.
They are active at night
Most hippos' activities like foraging happen during the night.
An integral role in the ecosystem
Their enormous size serves to create microhabitats for smaller organisms, and they facilitate habitats for fish by repeatedly walking on common pathways from water sources to inland areas.
They are strong swimmers
They can hold their breath for an average of five minutes.
Why We Love Pygmy Hippo Day
It serves a message
This day serves as a message about the importance of hippos to the world. It also explains the precarious situation of hippos and the need to protect them.
It celebrates hippos
This day is a celebration of the wonderful creatures that are hippos. Hippos add more meaning to the ecosystem and are essential for the survival of many species.
It spreads awareness
It spreads awareness about the endangered situation of pygmy hippos. It urges people to help in a way to save this species from extinction.
Pygmy Hippo Day dates