Mama hippo and baby hippo swimming together – cutest video ever

Mama hippo and baby hippo swimmingIn case you missed it, last Friday, we published Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya – African wildlife. Today we have yet more hippo love to share: a video of a mother hippo and baby hippo swimming together at the Bioparc Valencia, the smashing zoo in Valencia, Spain. I think it’s safe to say we love hippos.

I filmed this myself with an HD Flip camera on my latest trip to Valencia, Spain. Having recently visited Zambia on a safari, I thought the African animals at the zoo might not impress me as much as usual. Boy, was I wrong.

Bioparc Valenica allows you to get so close to the animals — and not because the enclosures are small (they’re actually larger than most I’ve seen). Furthermore, it provides you with experiences you definitely wouldn’t have on a safari, like watching hippos swim underwater right in front of you.

According to my Zambian guides, hippos can hold their breath underwater for four to five minutes. They prefer to be underwater during the day because it’s hot. On this particular day in Valencia (November 27, 2010), it was actually cold, so the hippos are hanging out underwater for the opposite reason: the water’s heated. There’s nothing like a heated pool on a chilly day!

The mother hippo has the most wonderful face, and every time I see that little hippo’s feet, my heart melts into jelly. I hope yours does, too.

Read more about Valencia here!

[Photo and video by Annie Scott.]

This trip was sponsored by Cool Capitals and Tourismo Valencia, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.

Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya – African wildlife

African wildlife - Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in KenyaSometimes, strange and wonderful things happen within the world of African wildlife. A few weeks ago at Sanctuary Olonana, a luxury camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Mother Nature looked the other way while the nature of a mother hippo took over.

An infant wildebeest accidentally ended up in the middle of the Mara River, helpless and gangly and unable to swim. The calf had been crossing the river with its own mother (as part of the wildebeest migration, one of the natural wonders of the world), but was swept away by the strong current. The little guy wasn’t doing too well and a crocodile began to circle.


A nearby female hippo caught sight of the struggling calf and nearby croc, and swam to his rescue. Guests watched anxiously for an intense fifteen minutes as she gently pushed the baby wildebeest to the shore where his mother was waiting — a heroic and noble act by a notably aggressive animal. There’s no actual proof that she’s a mother hippo, but with maternal instincts like that, which stretched even beyond her species, I’m guessing that either she is, or she’s going to be.

These touching photos were taken by the Sanctuary Olonana camp manager, who watched along with the guests and staff of the camp. I can only imagine the cheering when the baby wildebeest was finally brought to safety.

A zebra trots down to watch the action:
African wildlife - Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya

The hippo gently nudges the infant wildebeest out of the water:
African wildlife - Mother hippo rescues a baby wildebeest in Kenya

[Photos courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats.]

Montenegro loses its only hippo

The only hippopotamus in Montenegro escaped from the zoo on Wednesday. So if you took your trip to Podgorica specifically to see the two-ton animal, named Nikica, pack up and go home. Maybe you can catch a train to Greece instead. Whatever you choose to do, just know that the damned hippo isn’t there any more. She broke free from her cage and swam away after seasonal floods reached the zoo.

Davor Mujovic, the zoo’s manager, told Reuters, “She remains at large, but one of the guards is keeping an eye on her and is feeding her daily.” Nikica found a dry spot about a mile from the zoo, which is sufficient for now. Mujovic and the zoo guards are going to wait until the water pulls back more before trying to lure the hippo back to the zoo.

The hippo is already charming the locals, according to the zoo’s owner, Nikola Pejovic. “People like her,” Pejovic said, “villagers are bringing her fresh hay.”

[Photo by marfis75 via Flickr]

Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda popular with tourists

Visiting the former home of a famous person is pretty common. Tourists flock to Elvis’ Graceland and who wouldn’t love a look inside the creepy world of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch? But exploring the former compound of a Colombian drug lord….well that seems a little less likely. Yet aparently Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles, located outside of Bogota, Colombia, is a hit with tourists.

Though Escobar was shot to death sixteen years ago, he lives on in infamy in the country. Tourists who have an affinity for over-the-top tacky “narco-deco” style or who can’t resist a look at Escobar’s lavish estate (which is now owned by the state) can visit the compound for about $10 US. The ranch is considered an “anti-crime museum” and sells replica guns and fake Escobar mustaches.

The compound is being re-purposed as an eco-tourism park, though many of the eccentric features added by Escobar remain. Nearly 30 hippos still wander the property, which includes Jurassico Park – a park featuring life-size models of dinosaurs – plus a go-kart track and private landing strip.

The compound also features horseback riding and hiking trails around the large property, butterfly and bird sanctuaries and a wildlife reserve.

[via News.com.au]

Wild animal travel: Where the hunter becomes the hunted

There’s nothing quite like seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat. It’s why people go on safari in South Africa to see lions and elephants, trek through the jungles of Borneo in search of monkeys, and submerge themselves in steel cages off the coast of Baja California to swim with Great White sharks. But it’s important to remember that despite the precautions taken by tour guides and rangers, these are still wild animals and getting close to them in nature carries some risks. In other words: there’s a reason that safari guide carries a gun.

Forbes Traveler has put together a list of “10 Places Where Animals Eat You”, a collection of destinations where the danger of visiting wild animals in nature is greater. Among the spots that made the list are Khao Sok National Park in Thailand, where cobras kill several hundred people per year; South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, where aggressive hippos have been known to flip boats and even eat people; and Ranthambhore Bagh, India, where around 100 people are attacked by tigers each year.

The article goes on to detail other encounters with wild animals, like when the girlfriend of a Tanzanian guide had her sleeping bag dragged 30 yards by a lion, while she was sound asleep in it. It seems animal attacks can happen almost anywhere though, and the danger certainly won’t stop most people from visiting these areas to see wild animals up close. You may just want to think twice about wandering too far away from your guide.