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The Question:

I may have heard this wrong, but I thought a guide at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego gave us the names of the three most dangerous animals—those that are responsible for the most human deaths. I thought that he listed hippopotamuses as the most lethal. Why would that be?

The Answer:

You are right. The hippopotamus causes the most human deaths in Africa. This is because the hippo is highly territorial and extremely bad tempered. They hate surprises. They spend most of their time in rivers and lakes, often just beneath the surface. They are often unnoticed by boat captains, who mistake them for rocks, or ripples, and bump into them.

Hippos are the third-largest land animal in the world, weighing between 2,220 and 9,000 pounds. Even pygmy hippos weigh between 350 and 600 pounds. They can easily capsize a small boat. They can crush people or drown them. It is also extremely dangerous for people to venture near a baby hippo.

So, if you go to Africa, and take a boat trip, be sure the captain is experienced enough to detect any hippos lurking beneath the surface!

—The Editors


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