Hippo saves wildebeest, zebra babies

2010-12-03 08:20

Cape Town - Photos and videos showing a hippo rescuing first a wildebeest calf and then a zebra foal from drowning in a strong-flowing river in Tanzania are causing a sensation worldwide.

Tom Yule, manager of the Grumeti Expeditions tour operating company, captured the rescues on video in October and his son Michael (13) took the photos.

Yule, a South African now living in Tanzania, was watching the wildebeest and zebra migration across the Mara River near the northern Lemala Serengeti tented camp together with a touring group when they saw the incident.

"This is the time of year that the migration of wildebeest and zebra starts moving south from the Masai Mara in Kenya, heading for the short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti," said Yule.

"One of their big hurdles is the Mara River, which was flowing very strongly that day because of recent heavy rains."


Yule and several others saw the strong current sweep a young wildebeest calf downstream.

"The hippo immediately went after it and positioned itself on the downstream side of the calf, nudging it with its snout and keeping it above the water all the way across the river until the calf reached the other side and managed to get out and join the rest of the herd."

Barely five minutes later the water swept away a zebra foal. The hippo immediately set off after the foal and helped it toward the opposite bank in the same way.

"It was incredible to watch," said Yule. The foal was utterly exhausted when it eventually managed to get on to a little rock island very close to the opposite bank.

"It just stood there panting," he said.

"The hippo got out of the water and came up behind the foal and started nudging it and gently biting it on its backside as if to say, 'Come on man, don't give up now, you can do it. Just a hop, skip and a jump and you're there.'

"The foal slowly stepped off of the island and crossed the little channel on to the opposite side and rejoined the rest of the family group."

Here's the YouTube video:

  • Annatar - 2010-12-03 08:31

    Just wonderful

  • dekock.lukas - 2010-12-03 08:39

    Very strange. You must have posted the wrong video. The one i just watched contains a hippo playing with the animals, almost drowning one the the process when it rests its head on top of a little foul. Never trying to keep it on top of the water. Very strange indeed. Perhaps there are some drugs in the air i havent yet inhaled like the rest, and i dont percieve butterflies and sunflowers floating through the air.

      Susannomore - 2010-12-03 08:54

      You are so funny - should take up comedy as a full time profession...

      ajbrandt - 2010-12-03 09:06

      exactly..don't know what the fuss is about...boring.....zzzzzzz

      schoemanjh - 2010-12-03 09:51

      Idiots. any Hippo Bull will defend its territory against ANYTHING. He was chasing them away - rather then 'helping' them! Hippos have been seen actually eating meat as well. Typical American drivel.

      EmmieG - 2010-12-03 10:23

      Are you so jaded by human behaviour towards each other that you cannot comprehend the actions of this hippo. I wonder what you yourself I bet !

      Kyle_logan - 2010-12-03 12:08

      @schoemanjh just wondering if you've ever see a hippo defending it's territory? I have, and it's nothing like what this hippo did. all you supposed experts who think this is crap go watch something that's more to your IQ leave's... barney comes to mind.. maybe that will be somehting you idiots understand.... - 2010-12-03 12:23

      I wonder if the hippo said: 'Come on man, don't give up now, you can do it. Just a hop, skip and a jump and you're there.' in Ben Stillers voice or in Eddie Murphy's voice.

      The Patriot - 2010-12-03 15:36

      while the hippo thinks to himself, I wonder what this tastes like?, hay, theres another one!

      Terence - 2010-12-06 15:46

      At exactly 1:27 the foal is just about to cross the river, and nearly on the other bank. It is nearly drowned by this hippos intervention!

  • Robert MacLean - 2010-12-03 09:08

    If you going to watch the video, which is awesome, turn off the sound. I've heard porn films with better music.

      devils-adv - 2010-12-03 10:46

      Agree. That has to be one of the worst soundtracks I have ever heard. Vangelis at its worst!

  • - 2010-12-03 09:17

    This is the worst case of bambi syndrome I've seen in a while.

      pop101 - 2010-12-03 10:23

      Have to agree, it's probably a case of "curious kitten catch mouse for first time and not to sure what to do with mouse".

  • thedailyreal - 2010-12-03 09:39

    Another news24 story that is devoid of truth....

  • hemant230778 - 2010-12-03 09:42

    Nice video, shows that even animals care for others kids. I wonder if the Hippo was just trying to get the little trespassers out of his muddy pool so that he/she could have some peace and quiet again?

  • Peace - 2010-12-03 10:26

    What an amazing video to see a huge hippo being so gentle.... watching this made my day. This is what our news should comsist of good things not bad.

      Pattib - 2010-12-03 13:50

      Thanks a lot peace. the hippo does not look puzzled or even violent. instead he chooses topush the struggling animals through. yes they seem scared of him but he does not seem to have any intentions to harm them. sure the hippois used to animals passing thru all the times and has over the years developed some kind of intelligence to help these animals......wonderful indeed!

  • Krush - 2010-12-03 10:29

    If even animals can be this compassionate and caring why can't the human race who has been given so much more the ability to do so?

      pop101 - 2010-12-03 10:48

      Animals are not compassionate and caring. But I get your point.

  • preshengovender69 - 2010-12-03 10:52

    animals are not racist like julius malema

  • Mr_Comment - 2010-12-03 11:42

    I wonder if the person who took the footage, and who ever wrote the article, actually realise that this hippo was hunting, and not being a 'saint'. Hippos are omnivorous and will attack weaker animals for food if there is a plant shortage. You can plainly see the hippo testing these animals, and even starting to bite the zebra. If you watch closely, the animals really start stressing as the hippo gets closer to them, they know whats going on. We are too quick to anthropomorphise animals and give them human emotions. That hippo doesn't feel compassion, only hunger. As a game ranger who has been at the Kruger for more than 20 years, I have seen similar behaviour many times, only to end in tragedy for the crossing animals.

      ray.romans - 2010-12-03 12:51

      Surely if that hippo wanted to 'chomp' down on that zebra in particular, it would have. There was every opportunity.

      Kyle_logan - 2010-12-03 20:37

      interesting... however hippo's are primary herbivores and onmivors... they have been known to eat meat but it is not usuall... this hippo did not display any hunting tact.... it was displaying curiosity yes, but not hunger....

      scarecrow.irene - 2010-12-04 10:26

      The hippos was clearly not hungry, and even remained by the zebra foal's side when it emerged on the other side. If you tell me that hippo was 'hunting', then all I can say is 20yrs in the field, and you are still ignorant. That hippo could have crushed the foal with one bite, so why didnt it? I am assuming you are one of the people who believe man has dominion over animals, and is mans god given responsibility to manage nature and the animals. You are the one who clearly see the correlation between intelligence and animal behaviour.

      captain - 2010-12-04 19:54

      20 years wasted! that's all I can say

  • Romiko Derbynew - 2010-12-03 11:43

    Just shows that animals are intelligent and emotional beings and should be respected. Romiko

  • Baskatron - 2010-12-03 11:46

    This just goes to show how cruel Zebras are to their children...letting it cross the dangerous river alone. That hippo should get a medal for bravery and maybe even adopt the zebra. Or it was a cunning plan to starve all the crocs? Hippos are so clever!

      Matthew - 2010-12-03 12:33

      Did you just fell the need to comment, even if it made no sense? Empty vessels make the most noise...

      ray.romans - 2010-12-03 12:52

      Why, it was a zebra crossing, was it not?

  • emmamimie - 2010-12-03 12:04


      taf.jizz - 2010-12-03 13:35

      Here we go again . . . .already!!

      Pattib - 2010-12-03 13:52

      Oh Lord plese get over that already. this is supposed to be a complete opposite of what you are on about. Heavens help you. you are so bitter

  • Magda - 2010-12-03 12:18

    I am sure if the Hippo wanted to take a bite,it would have done so!Instead it was very gentle!

  • daboss247365 - 2010-12-03 12:31

    ***Sitting & waiting for this to be called an ANC or DA Hippo, that had alterior motives...

  • dekock.lukas - 2010-12-03 12:38

    Look at 00:29 He is pushing it down river. Not up river. 1:38 Zebra can barely keep afloat with the heavy hippo playing with him. @ 1:46 you see the hippo letting go. And wow what the fck is that? The zebra can actually swim and keep its head above water? Damn. What a help that hippo has been. The truth behind all this, is that the hippo is actually a swim instructor simulation to the little zebra how hard it would have been to swim if a giant hippo was to poke, prod and push him around while he tried to cross a river. Promise.

      VS - 2010-12-03 14:07

      u have too much time on ur hands !

  • mashishiv - 2010-12-03 13:35

    This hippo has more brains than Ms Botes"the Racist"

      Pattib - 2010-12-03 13:53

      shut up freak if you have nothing to say

  • StoneThrower - 2010-12-03 13:36

    give that Hippo a Bells

      Pattib - 2010-12-03 13:53

      nice one - LOL

      MrOpinion - 2010-12-04 09:52

      No, no, no! You cannot give a Bells to the Hippo after drinking more than his fair share of Red Bull. The mixture will cause the Hippo to behave out of character. That in turn will encourage all those bored people at work to step out of the shadows and into the Hippo's limelight. I believe that's what triggered this unusual event in the first place :o)

  • Joy - 2010-12-03 14:16

    awwwww that is just so NUNU - nature works in a beautiful way ! this Hippo truly has amazing mothering instincts

  • Miss Jones - 2010-12-03 14:42

    Wow, people are animals and animals are people, its a strange world!!

  • Miss Jones - 2010-12-03 14:43

    Wow, people are animals and animals are people. Its a strange world.

  • Witrot - 2010-12-03 15:26

    And this is what I love about Africa..... Our motherland, we should treasure all her children....

      Eclaire - 2010-12-03 16:01

      What did the hippo say to the zebra crossing the river? .... Did you bring me a Chomp?

  • edmundr78 - 2010-12-03 15:47

    Ever consider the thought that the hippo was pushing it to more shallow ground.. which is why it was able to get out of the river?

  • Elaine - 2010-12-03 16:04

    its wonderful to see this in my lifetime, would it not be just as wonderful if we as the human race could live to-gether without harming one another

  • Mathieu - 2010-12-03 17:39

    What an absolutely fantastic moment to be caught on camera. The mind wonders how many of these amazing moments in nature have yet to be captured by man. On a depressing note: I've read all the comments that have been posted thus far and there are some real ignoramus's out there.

  • Rachael Heskett - 2010-12-03 17:45

    From what I see, there is a hippo trying to help the little ones across. They are light weight and are floating down river, they are not being pushed by the hippo. Mother hippos are very careful with thier young and it looks to me like that same care was shown for these babies. Except that the hippo cannot understand that these babies are not like her own. They cannot hold thier breath for extended time under water. She was not biting the youngling, but nudging it on. Such pessimistic views, when it is so clear that if the hippo wanted to maul this little one she had every opprotunity. Also, animals absolutely have feelings and emotions. How do you explain the joy of a well cared for animal to the distress of an abused animal?

      SafariJules - 2010-12-06 16:11

      Absolutely spot on Rachel - yours is the first sensible explanation I have seen - the hippo was not aggressive at all - the instinct to protect young, even of other species, must be very strong - she sees no threat so tries to assist - marvellous footage :)

  • Christian - 2010-12-03 19:09

    @ the patriot (sic) I teach pre-school kids for a living and even THEY know hippo's are vegetarians! Unfortunate "music" aside, this is lovely.

      newagetv - 2010-12-03 22:03

      they are omnivores. Stick to teaching colours for now

      jacowium - 2010-12-04 21:24

      Funny comments, but the "vegetarians" bit was the best! Christian, at least you're half right, but they are omnivores. Note: omnivores, not carnivores.

  • Anelle - 2010-12-03 19:53

    Such a nice heart warming story! Animals are so much better than humans. Especially if you read about families that use their own kids to make porn!! please don't call these bastards animals. It is an insult to our animal friends

  • louiskbb - 2010-12-03 20:02

    Beeld gets it wrong most of the time. Amazing that I have to write in English to an Afrikaans paper that would not publish my earlier comments.

  • Daniel - 2010-12-03 20:43

    This hippo is clearly not helping them. Watch 1:37. As dekock.lukas mentioned, this hippo is not helping its cause. I think this hippo 'plays' with whatever animals are crossing the river. You can't turn something like the hippo's jaw on the zebra into 'He's nudging him on' - no. That's just your emotions trying to justify something typical in the animal kingdom into something cute. I agree, that is a cute story though. I'm not prejudice or an internet troll - I love animals, but they're still just animals.

      scarecrow.irene - 2010-12-04 10:14

      You may like or even love animals, but I dont think you uderstand them. Animals often do not respond in the manner that we would contribute to instincts. At the end of the video, the hippo is standing over the Zerbra foal, seeming to encourage her, rahter than intimidate or chase her. There are many instances of 'goodwill' animals. Why cant we just accept they have a lot more intelligence and emotions than we would we can see on face value. Animals are intelligent. Animals have emotions. This is not me anthropomorphizing animals, but simply based on my years of observation tame, wild and feral animals. People are always hesitant of acknowledging an animals intelligence, because then we would have to face the fact that we have been abusing the wonderful creatures that inhabit this earth, and that they feel pain. Just because they cant talk, does not mean they cant think! I think it is an insult to animals when we call barbaric people 'animals' when most animals have more compassion than the criminals we refer to. its as clear as daylight that the hippo did not pose a threat to the foal. It's true that many hippos are very aggresive, but the fact that this one responded differently says a lot.

      SafariJules - 2010-12-06 16:17

      I agree with you Irene - there is far more to an animal's psyche than just pure instinct. The hippo was using protective behaviour and was being totally non-hostile.

  • marcus.diedericks - 2010-12-03 22:15


  • Will Burrard-Lucas - 2010-12-03 22:26

    haha. love it. the hippo is so clearly just intrigued! to say it is "saving" them is a bit of a stretch!

  • Hannah - 2010-12-04 07:56

    Absolutely beautiful mother nature to the rescue!!

  • - 2010-12-04 08:47

    omg fat lot of help, the hippo almost drowned the poor zebra!! The music almost made me cry though.

  • Clive - 2010-12-04 09:30

    I have read with interest all the comments posted, some are just downright ignorant though. Having spent 30 years of my younger days in remote areas heavily populated with game of all descriptions, what I saw in the video was not uncommon amongst different species during seasonal changes. I say to the doubters and dissbelievers, get you butt out there and you WILL see just that sort of behaviour between species. You had better believe it.!!!

      scarecrow.irene - 2010-12-04 10:48

      perfectly said! Why all this pessimism about something people do not understand? Testament to man's stupidity. Yet the same people claim they are superior to animals. Funny how life is.

      irene.grodzki - 2010-12-04 13:10

      I am appalled by the ignorance and harshness of many of the above comments.God comes in many forms and sends His angels in many forms.This video brought me to tears...which doesn't happen often.Man can never understand the beauty of nature fully.Don't people understand that animals came BEFORE man???We are honoured with their wildness and their beauty.I loved the music for the soundtrack...what did people expect?...rap music???I feel sorry for some of humanity, they have become too bitter and cynical...maybe a sign of the times...or maybe this sort of thing exposes too much emotion and it scares them.

      Lorrie Barton Morris - 2013-12-31 20:24

      Some human beings are just so caught up in their own "superiority" that they can't possibly begin to understand the ways of nature...and the pure instinct of "helping another being".

  • onemantribe - 2010-12-04 14:46

    Ah, so turns the great wheel of Samsara, and no mistake about it.

  • mwervinsa - 2010-12-04 15:02

    @schoemanjh, you need to get your facts straight here, if this is drivel it is South African drivel and not American Drivel. The source for this story and the video is South African. There is more drivel that comes out of the mouths of South Africans than any Americans that I know. Proud to be an American living in Beautiful South Africa. Michael

  • mwervinsa - 2010-12-04 15:07

    @schoemanjh, if this story and video are drivel, as you state, it is definitely not American Drivel, but South African Drivel. The source of the story and the video are from a South African. In fact, I have heard a lot more drivel coming from the mouth of South Africans, than I have ever heard come from the mouth of Americans. I am in fact a proud American living in South Africa with my beautiful South African wife and daughters.

  • r.bulinus - 2010-12-04 15:55

    I must agree with dekock.lukas. I do not see this as a rescue attempt by the hippo. If anything I would say the hippo is seriously considering trying to eat the zebra! I have spent many thousands of hours in the bush watching animals and I do not see a scene as depicted in the write up to this video

  • UlaGillion - 2010-12-04 17:31

    I think what the hippo did was wonderful, intentional or not. Fact is, two babies didn't drown that day.

  • Matthew - 2010-12-04 19:45

    @Kyle_Logan Next time you try insult someone about there intelligence why don't you learn to spell and get some Punctuation retard.."Go watch something that's more to your IQ LEAVE'S" ? I think it's LEVELS ...Learn to spell

  • Lindsay - 2010-12-04 21:15

    You people are chops lol. If the hippo wanted to murder the wildebeest and zebra, they would have been flying around and playing violins in heaven there and then.

  • Lindsay - 2010-12-04 21:15

    You people are chops lol. If the hippo wanted to murder the wildebeest and zebra, they would have been flying around playing violins in heaven there and then.

  • angelwings - 2010-12-05 12:59

    hAS JELLY TOT JULIAAAS SEEN THIS VIDEO MAYBE HE CAN TEACH HIS KINDERGAREN COPS SOMETHING ABOUT COMPASSION. This video made my day it gives me more reason to be with true wild animals,in the real wild Africa,where wild animals show compassion for different species,not the low life forms we call humanbeings. I HOPE JELLY TOT JULIAAAS HAS WATCHED THIS VIDEO SO THAT HE CAN TEACH HIS KINDERGARDEN COPS(Cronies)something about humility & compassion.

  • StJohn - 2010-12-06 12:53

    and on top of this sad story comes the story of the De Hoek Safaries who placed an Ad to hunt a hippo on their farm, this after a group offered to purchase the hippo and relocate it where it would not be a "problem". The poor beast was shot and killed this weekend. And of course we had the horric torture and killing of the bull in a "cultural" ceremony on Saturday as well. People are so cruel! Children and women are raped, murdered and tortured as well as animals. Humans are a sad specied indeed.

  • Marlet van Wetten - 2010-12-06 15:26

    Actully in the past it's known that hippo's "rescues" a drowing animal or from croc's. Researchers are still not sure why hippo's do this but it's nothing new. It was interesting read for nature conservationist and game students, thank you for publishing it

  • Terence - 2010-12-06 15:43

    survival of the fattest!

  • modmario - 2010-12-06 17:02

    Great add for this camp place love it!!

  • ikoric - 2011-02-04 05:13

    Whatever people are commenting, the hippo is obviously not trying to hurt (or eat- stupid suggestion) any of the animals. It is not necessarily helping them, either. Since we, as a species, don't seem to believe any other animals have emotions or rational thoughts, we'll probably never know what it was thinking.

  • mary.hinchman - 2012-04-19 19:42

    if the fools in the trucks weren't parked right there, it may have come up sooner. Do we know that it found it's mom?