Tails From The Zoo

Zebra Cleans Hippo’s Teeth March 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,World News — Scott Gray @ 2:26 pm

I couldn’t help but think that this was a fantastic article. We often learn in school about the relationship between certain birds and large African mammals. Birds like oxpeckers can often be seen cleaning the ears, nostrils and body of hoofed animals like water buffalo. The birds get the benefit of a tasty meal (lice, ticks, larva) and the hoofed stock get the benefit of having potentially harmful parasites removed.

In this case, a zebra and hippo are working together! The following article and picture can be found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8564834.stm


A zebra at Zurich Zoo appeared to be staring into the jaws of death when visitors saw it nose to nose with an open-mouthed hippopotamus.

But the hippo had no intention of having the zebra for lunch – it was having its teeth cleaned.

The extraordinary sight was captured by photographer Jill Sonsteby, from Jacksonville, Florida.

She said the teeth-cleaning session lasted 15 minutes and the zebra came to no harm.

“The zebra was in the same enclosure as the hippo and its baby,” said Ms Sonsteby, 34.

“The hippo opened its mouth and let the zebra in there to clean.

“Everybody was snapping pictures. It was so great to be there at that moment.”


The hippopotamus is regarded as one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and has a bite that can cut a small boat in half.

Hippos can weigh up to three tonnes and are the third largest land mammal in the world.

Although they rarely kill each other, hundreds of fatal attacks on people in Africa have been recorded.

Despite its bulky frame, the hippo can outrun a human on land over short distances.

Copyright by BBC News.


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