Strong but Silent Hippos Save One of Their Own From Lion Attack

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: December 22, 2023

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Hippo Attack
© Martin Mecnarowski/

At first, this clip looks like a distressing situation where two male lions have overpowered a young hippo. This is not easy to watch, but stick with it because there is a happy ending. Around halfway through, two adult hippos turn up – playing it super cool. These guys stroll past the attack scene and appear to be ignoring what is happening. They are not! The hippos are assessing the situation and soon return to rescue their mate. The lions are not confident enough to take on another two hippos and race away. Miraculously, the small hippo also gets up and trots away, looking remarkably unscathed!

Do Lions Normally Hunt Hippos?

As carnivores with high protein needs, hippos hunt a range of prey. They usually focus on large-sized ungulates, including zebra, wildebeest, and impala. However, they also hunt juvenile hippos – it would be unusual for them to take on an adult hippo unless it was already injured or sick. This is because hippos are highly aggressive and territorial. They are huge and powerful animals with sharp teeth and a lot of attitude. If the two hippos in this clip decided to attack the lions, it would probably be the big cats that came away with the worst injuries.

How Did This Hippo Survive?

Aggressive hippo male attacking the car. Huge hippo male intimidating the opponent. Wild animal in the nature habitat. African wildlife. This is Africa. Hippopotamus amphibius.

Hippos are large and powerful animals with plenty of attitude.


Few animals can survive being mauled by one lion, let alone two! Yet, this hippo can get up and walk away after the attack. You can see it is injured from some blood on its body, but the injuries don’t appear too severe.

This is because hippo skin is remarkably tough. Some body parts are around two inches thick; even a lion’s large canines will have trouble piecing that.

Another awesome fact about Hippo Skin is that they produce their sunscreen! Their skin oozes a pink substance that moisturizes and protects from harmful UV rays.

Do Lions Normally Hunt in Pairs?

Lions use several different hunting strategies. Female lions in prides often hunt together, which gives them a greater chance of success, especially when tackling large prey. Males, on the other hand, are often seen hunting alone. However, they can form coalitions with other males, which helps them increase the success of their hunting adventures. They plan to grab large prey by the neck so that they can crush the trachea. On this occasion, that didn’t work out as they planned!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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