The Cutest Thing You’ve Ever Seen: A Baby Hippo Swimming Underwater

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: November 21, 2023
Share on:

Hippos may not have a reputation as the most elegant animals, but when they are babies and under the water, they are mesmerizing! You cannot take your eyes off this gorgeous little hippo swimming confidently in a zoo pool. It’s almost as if the baby knows it is being watched and wants to put on a show for the human onlookers. What’s more, the baby hippo seems to be enjoying itself!

Watch the Adorable Clip Now

Where Do Hippopotamuses Normally Live?  

The little hippo in this clip is obviously in a zoo or wildlife park. Hippos are a native species of sub-Saharan Africa. They can be found in many African countries, including Angola, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia. You will usually spot them in estuaries and around the lower sections of rivers. However, more recently, they have been found in reservoirs. During the rainy season, they tend to wander around a lot. Hippos need to live near water that is deep enough for them to submerge their bodies entirely. Also, they need some grassland nearby to provide their food. Water is essential for a hippo’s health. During the dry season, they resort to wallowing in muddy pools. If their skin dries out, it cracks and can become inflamed.

Are Hippos Normally Good Swimmers?

Hippopotamus chewing on a watermelon with pieces and juice dripping down into the water.

Hippos walk along the bottom of rivers.

©Alexander Oganezov/

Yes! As you would expect from an animal that spends its time in and around rivers, hippos are very comfortable in the water. However, hippos don’t swim! They are so heavy, and their bones are so dense that they sink to the bottom. Then, they have a unique underwater walk resembling a gallop or a trot. They push themselves forward using their feet, pressing against the river’s bottom. Adult hippos can stay underwater for five minutes. Even a two-month-old calf can remain under the water for about 30 seconds.

This little calf is bobbing up and down. It bounces off the bottom of the pool to generate enough momentum to get to the surface to take a breath. Then, it sinks back down under the water.

As a bonus, fish found in African rivers clean hippos. Fish species such as carp use their mouths to clean hippos’ skin – removing parasites and bacteria. At the same time, hippos have no patience with larger animals who are trying to share their pools. They have been seen pushing crocodiles out of their way!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Lena Ivanova/

Share on:
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.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.