IN a seemingly quiet African river suddenly erupts with the appearance
of a great huge beast. Then whoosh, another surfaces, and another, and another. One by one, about 15 rise to the surface of
the calm water—some with a great deal of snorting and hissing as they exhale, others more quietly. At the surface, they
each take a breath of fresh air. This, ladies and gents, is the hippo!
it is almost impossible to mistake a hippopotamus for anything else. The body is long, barrel-shaped, and
very deep. [I always thought they were more potato-shaped.] The limbs are short and pillar-like, with four toes on each foot.
The hippo's neck is short and quite thick in order to support the weight of the massive head. The ears are small and round,
the eyes are bulbous and protruding, and the muzzle is broad and rounded. The hippo's mouth is especially large; in fact,
the hippo can open its mouth wider than any other living animal except the whales. The upper and lower canine teeth--often
referred to as tusks--are long, thick, and very sharp. The animal has no hair except for a few stiff bristles on its muzzle,
ears, and stubby tail. The skin color ranges from slate gray to copper brown on the back to pinkish purple on the belly and
around the ears and eyes.