NZ Television Premiere: Hippo: Africa’s River Beast
National Geographic – Sunday 29 July, 9.30pm
Natgeo presents with Red Symons: A three-tonne amphibious tank dominates Africa’s marshlands – wielding powerful jaws, fearsome foot-long canines, and a hide as tough as nails. Hippos are considered one of the most dangerous animals; by some accounts, they kill more people in Africa than any other beast. These unlikely athletes are capable of surprising speed and agility, with the ability to run nearly 30 miles an hour and corner on a dime. Their muscle-wrapped jaws are powerful enough to bite through small boats and their canines are sharp enough to rip open a lion but they are strictly plant eaters. Footage of hippos battling each other and of a hippo repelling lion claws and outrunning the pack are simply amazing. Groundbreaking discoveries about hippo DNA are rewriting natural history, proving the species is closely related to dolphins and whales. New research also proves it’s not a good idea to sneak up on hippos as they can hear above and below the water at the same time. Analysis of their calls reveals a complex form of communication that amazes all who study the animals. From a fatal attack on a group of river tourists in Zambia, to the mauling of a fisherman in South Africa, find out what triggers such attacks and learn why this creature is worthy of respect and admiration.