Pair of Behemoth Hippos Exit Their Watering Hole Only to Find a Pride of Lions Lying in Wait

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Written by Sammi Caramela

Published: November 9, 2023

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Lions with charging hippo in the evening light. Wild animals in the nature habitat. Lions fight against a hippo. Three lion brothers with hippo.
© PhotocechCZ/

Lions are known to be at the top of the food chain, powerful enough to kill almost any animal and make it their prey. In Africa, where lion prides are especially large, lions are best known for attacking and killing elephants as a group. A recent viral video showed two large hippos escaping lurking lions after exiting their water hole. Though rare, lions can and do hunt hippos if they’re in their territory. But do these large cats stand a chance against hippos?

Where Do Hippos and Lions Live?

Hippos and lions both live in Africa. However, lions also live in Asia. A hippo’s habitat consists of rivers and wetlands, while a lion’s is mostly open woodland, scrub, and grassland. As demonstrated in the video, hippos will often emerge from watering holes and into lion territory, where lions often meet them. 

Do Lions Hunt Hippos?

Lions typically hunt prey like antelope, warthogs, and zebras, but they will occasionally attack hippos if they come into their territory. Because lions are powerful apex predators, meaning they’re at the top of the food chain, they can kill most animals — especially when hunting in groups. However, this isn’t often the case with hippos.

In fact, in a fight between a lion and a hippo, a hippo would likely come out on top. Due to its power, hiding abilities, and large teeth, the animals could likely take down multiple lions. However, there are instances when a large pride could wear down a hippo and ultimately defeat it.

Hippopotamus emerging from water

Hippos are aggressive and unpredictable creatures. In fact, they will often charge other animals and can take them down with a singular bite.

©Radek Borovka/

How Do Hippos Defend Themselves?

Hippos defend themselves with their powerful, sharp teeth, which can kill prospective predators in just one bite. In fact, a single hippo bite can crush limbs and puncture organs. This is why many people believe hippos are carnivores that hunt prey. However, they’re actually herbivores and feast mainly on plants. Occasionally, they will feed on animal carcasses, but they don’t actively or commonly seek prey to kill for food.

As one of the largest animals on Earth, hippos can weigh up to 9,920 pounds and grow up to 16.5 feet in length.

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About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

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