Enormous Hippo Attacks Three Adult Male Lions in Shocking Footage

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: October 11, 2022
Image Credit John Carnemolla/Shutterstock.com
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Hippos are herbivores, foraging primarily for grass at night when they’re most active. However, it is not unusual for them to stray from their usual diet of greens and turn toward meat. They’re odd-looking creatures, with their eyes and ears located at the top of their heads. This is what allows them to see and hear their surroundings, even when they’re submerged underwater.

This video opens with a view of three lions crossing a river toward the cameraman. You can hear him say, “I think they’re going to come over and say hi.” The three lions stay close together, their heads staying above water as they look around, ensuring they’re safe to cross.

The lion in front continues forward with the second close behind. The third lion is following just a few feet behind the first two. Suddenly, you can hear a loud splash, and all three lions turn their attention to where the sound came from.

The camera pans over to the right where a large hippo can be seen charging toward the lions. The hippo is the second largest land animal on earth (elephants are the first), and it’s surprising to see the swiftness with which they can move. It slices through the water like a knife through butter.

Aggressive Animal: Hippopotamus
Hippos are primarily herbivores, but scientists discovered in 1995 that they will kill and eat prey and that they scavenge carcasses, too. They are also extremely territorial.

Karel Bartik/Shutterstock.com

As the hippo approaches the three lions, you can see the third lion that was left the furthest behind has decided to abort the mission and retreats to the land where it came from. The other two lions continue their swim forward but are no match for the speed of the hippo.

The hippo goes straight for the first lion without hesitation, and the lion can be heard roaring loudly in response. The lion turns its body to face the hippo as it continues its attack. Now, the lion is trying to avoid the hippo in the water while still trying to get out of the water.

The second lion, seeing its leader attacked, has an opportunity to keep swimming forward to finish crossing the river. It’s the first lion that has the hippo’s undivided attention. The lion darts forward, to its left, and to its right, narrowly escaping the remarkably large mouth of the hippo.

In some moments, it seems as though the hippo has managed to clamp down on the lion’s body amid all the splashes and roars. Almost reaching land, the lion is in an awkward sideways position, trying to keep its body from the hippo’s mouth while simultaneously running away.

Finally, the lion makes it to land, where it has the advantage again and is able to run off. The hippo stops its attack once it’s fully out of the water. It looks about to ensure the lions are gone and goes back into the water. The camera pans over and you can see that a second hippo has arrived on the scene.

There are two lions in the background, on the other side of the river, that have been left behind. They will have to find another spot or another time to make their way across this river.

Hippo charges at lions underwater as they try to make their way back onto land.

Up Next, Check Out How Hippos and Lions Fare in the Wild When Confronted With Other (Sometimes Much Smaller) Animals.

Animals With the Toughest Skin
To stay cool in the blistering African heat, hippos spend most of their day in rivers and lakes.
John Carnemolla/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

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