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This clip proves that, despite what you thought, hippos can’t swim

This baby hippo is incredibly cute – but she’s no swimmer.


(Toronto Zoo)

(Toronto Zoo)

(Toronto Zoo)

Since she was born last month, this baby pygmy hippo has been all over social media, exploring with her mum, swimming in her pool and generally mucking about.

But it turns out she hasn’t really been swimming after all.

In the latest underwater clip released by Toronto Zoo, we can see the as yet unnamed calf and her mum Kindia examining the pool in their enclosure.

But if you look closely, you can see they aren’t actually swimming at all.

Toronto Zoo accompanied the clip with the caption: “Did you know hippos don’t technically swim? They propel themselves underwater using their legs to propel themselves forward. Their high body fat also assists with their buoyancy.”

Hippos do not swim as humans or other animals do, but generally walk underwater occasionally propelling themselves off the ground or other surfaces.

According to San Diego Zoo: “Their bodies are far too dense to float, so they move around by pushing off from the bottom of the river or simply walking along the riverbed in a slow-motion gallop, lightly touching the bottom with their toes, which are slightly webbed, like aquatic ballet dancers.”

Hippos may not be the Michael Phelps of the animal world, but they are well adapted to life in the water in other ways.

They can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes, and can even sleep submerged – a reflex causes them to bob to the surface, breathe, and sink back down again without disturbing their slumber.

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