The majority of Hippo’s that live in the wild are found in Africa. Approximately 125,000 to 150,000 of them are found in that area. Smaller amounts of these animals are found in some other areas. In Tanzania you will find 20,000 to 30,000. Zambia is home to about 40,000 of them. Those that live around Africa are mainly found to be in the Nile River region.
It is believed that the Pygmy Hippo used to live in areas of Nigeria as well. It is believed that they are now wiped out of that area completely. It has been many years since a confirmed sighting of these animals has been confirmed in that particular region.
The natural habitat for the Hippo continues to get smaller and smaller. Humans continue to take over land that they used to roam for food supplies. The climate changes have resulted in fewer bodies of water for the animals to survive in. The fact that their large teeth bring big money in the ivory market is also a leading cause. In many villages, the hunting of the Hippo is a source of meat. It is enough to feel large numbers of people for a long time.
The fascination that people have with the Hippo brings many people to the zoo setting. Executive directors know that when a family comes to the zoo to see the Hippo they will likely spend the entire day there seeing all of the animals. The first Hippos to be placed in a zoo setting occurred in London in 1850.
It is very expensive to house Hippos though, and they continue to be one of the most expensive animals in captivity. They consume large amounts of food and require constant cleaning up after. Handlers have to be very careful around them which is why they are locked out when the water is being cleaned. Then they are locked in when the outer area is being cleaned.
The set up for this type of Hippo environment is a pool that is half way indoors and half out. Then the Hippo can decide if it wants to be indoors or outside. At night they go on land and that is why you will see them mainly in the water during the day.
For the most part, Hippos seem to do very well in captivity. They have low stress lives being moved. They also seem to eat well and to continue to mate. However, they do seem to mate at a slower rate than in the wild. Most of the newer Hippos for zoos are the offspring of those already in captivity. This is more affordable and safer than to bring in a full grown one from the wild.
Today there are huge efforts in place to first identify the numbers for Hippos out there. Second, to pinpoint areas where they are struggling to survive so that changes can be put into motion. Finally, efforts are being made to keep humans out of these areas and stop them from taking them over.
While Hippos get a bad reputation, they really are just doing all they can to survive in their natural environment. When you put humans in the mix that shouldn’t be there, problems are going to develop. This is especially true in the water where they are known to be territorial. Even humans in boats there need to be warned. It is much easier for humans to find a new place to relax in their boat than for a Hippo to find a new place to survive.