Everyone has had the childhood debate about whose favorite animal could win against the other’s favorite animals.
While nobody would actually want to see these animals fight, there are some interesting facts that may lead you to believe that one animal may be better than the other.
Today, polar bears and hippopotamuses are competitors.
Polar Bear Vs. Hippo
Hippos and polar bears lead very different lives.
This is mostly due to the fact that their habitats could not be any more different.
The dangers of each are different and how these animals have evolved to deal with them are just as different.
Hippos spend their days bobbing in the waters of sub-Saharan Africa.
There are five species of hippopotamus that live all over Africa.
The Nile hippopotamus lives in Mozambique and Tanzania.
The East African hippopotamus can be found in Somalia and Kenya.
The South African hippopotamus lives in Zambia and South Africa.
The Western hippopotamus lives in western Africa and Chad.
The Angola hippopotamus can only be found in Angola, Congo, and Namibia.
All species of hippopotamus keep their skin from drying out in the sun by staying submerged in water most of the day.
Polar bears live completely different lives from hippopotamuses.
These arctic bears can be spotted in some of the coldest places on Earth, such as Alaska, Northern Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Svalbard.
Polar bears are extremely nomadic, often simply following their seal prey and wherever the quality of sea ice is strong enough to support them.
Due to oil drilling and global warming, polar bears have lost the majority of their homes.
Due to the vast difference in the habitats of hippos and polar bears, what they have the opportunity to eat is also quite different.
What may be available in sub-Saharan Africa will be vastly different from what is available in the arctic.
Hippos take a lot of food to fill out their massive figures.
Hippos mostly eat grass.
They need at least 88 pounds of food per night in order to maintain their weight.
Bear in mind that hippos are extremely social animals that travel in groups of tens and even hundreds.
That means a group of hippos can clear out anywhere from 880 pounds of grass to 8,800 pounds of grass.
Hippos are losing their homes to urbanization and farming.
There is less and less grass for them to eat, but the hippos are still hungry.
There have been many cases of hippos eating off of the carcasses that other predators have left, like impalas, baby elephants, and most disturbing of all, other hippos.
Dr. Joseph P. Dudley of the University of Alaska actually photographed a hippo eating the rotten corpse of another hippo, alongside some crocodiles.
Polar bears are also massive eaters, but they are pure carnivores.
The preferred meal for the polar bear is seal.
Polar bears will eat both ringed seals and bearded seals.
With the polar ice cap shrinking each year, polar bears can’t afford to be picky.
Polar bears will also eat walruses, but they will only go after weak ones due to the large size of the walruses.
Walruses are better at fighting than seals as well.
Polar bears will scavenge off whale carcasses that have drifted to the surface.
They also love to eat bird eggs as a nice snack, but they can’t live on those alone.
Size Isn’t Everything
Size may not be everything, but it can play a hefty role in determining whether the polars bear or the hippo is better.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, male polars can weigh more than 1,700 pounds and female polar bears can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
Their cubs normally only weigh 1.5 pounds at birth!
Hippopotamuses are some of the large mammals on the planet.
The average male hippo weighs anywhere from 3,500 pounds to a whopping 9,920 pounds!
Similar to polar bears, female hippopotamuses tend to be noticeably smaller than males.
Female hippos tend to weigh about 3,000 pounds, which is three times the size of a female polar bear.
Polar bears are the largest predators in the arctic.
They have no predators except other territorial polar bears.
Occasionally, wolves and malnourished mothers will eat polar bear cubs, but this is rare.
Hippos are also the largest predator in their environment.
However, this doesn’t stop smaller predators from making them prey.
Animals such as Nile crocodiles, lions, and spotted hyenas occasionally make a meal out of weaker and smaller hippos.
While the polar bear may have fewer predators, it is vastly smaller than a hippo.
The Battle In Water
Although you more frequently see hippos in the water, if a polar bear and a hippo were to fight in the water, the hippo would be at a major disadvantage.
Even in a head-to-head race around a swimming pool, the polar bear is going to win.
Polar bears are better built for the water than hippos.
Contrary to popular belief, hippos don’t swim.
Instead, what they’re doing when you see them in the water is floating.
Hippos jump and float across the surface of the water.
Before they go back into the water, they hold their breath while jumping back up to surface level.
Hippos are too heavy to truly be able to swim, so they simply walk across the bottom of whatever body of water they’re in.
All of their fat makes them buoyant enough to float as long as they do.
Polar bears are excellent swimmers, thanks to their webbed feet.
Polar bears can actually swim for days at a time, without tiring themselves out.
While swimming, polar bears can reach speeds of six miles per hour.
That’s a lot faster than any hippo could casually stroll across water.
A hippo couldn’t even swim in the same places as a polar bear because it would drown.
Polar Bears are the best in the water.
Who Would Win In A Foot Race?
If a polar bear and a hippo were to race, the winner of that foot race might be surprising.
While having either of them running after you would probably mean the end of your weak human life, one of them will catch up much faster to you than the other.
A polar bear can run up to 25 miles per hour.
The polar bear is able to maintain this speed even on ice, thanks to their non-slip paw pads.
Polar bears have incredibly strong legs from all the swimming and walking on ice that they do.
However, a hippo is capable of going even faster than a polar bear!
A hippo may weigh three times as much as a polar bear, but that doesn’t hinder their speed as much as you’d think it would.
According to the Saint Louis Zoo, a hippopotamus can run 30 miles per hour.
There have been countless people who have died by being run over by these massive creatures.
This means that in a foot race on a track, the hippo would win.
Paw To Paw Combat
Let’s put these two opponents in a ring and let them duke it out.
This fight would be a battle of the polar bear’s agility vs. the hippo’s endurance.
Let’s consider their features when considering this fight.
The hippo’s endurance doesn’t just come from its large size, but its thick skin as well.
A hippo’s skin is two inches thick.
On average, a polar bear’s claws only grow to about 3.5 inches.
That polar bear’s claws are just barely long enough to draw blood.
This means that the polar bear would have to rely on their teeth.
There have been many videos of hippos shrugging off lions who have clung to their backs.
However, a male polar bear is double the size of a lion.
On average, a hippo’s teeth are going to be anywhere from 1.2 feet to 1.5 feet.
As thick as a polar bear’s fur is, it isn’t going to be enough to stop a hippo’s massive jaws.
Although the polar bear would be faster and could beat the hippo if it were tactical enough, they are just animals and would probably just go in on one another.
All would take for the hippo to beat the polar bear is one good bite.
No More Deaths
Although the potential fight is interesting to consider, no more polar bear or hippo lives need to be lost.
Both polar bears and hippos are in need of some human intervention in order to save their species.
Lovers of these animals should know what puts their favorite animals at risk of no longer existing.
The pygmy hippo used to roam across all the plains of Africa, but now there are only 2,000 to 3,000 of them left in the wild.
Hippos are losing their homes to humans and then are being killed by the same people.
Some people say that they had to kill the hippos for protection, but just antagonize them so the hunters can shoot them for meat.
Similar to elephant’s ivory tusks, hippo’s teeth are seen as a desirable material.
Some reports state that hippo teeth exports have gone up by 530%.
In some locations, the hippo population has gone down as much as 95%.
Polar bears are facing similar troubles, and if the world doesn’t do something about it, it could be devastating for us all.
It’s normal for the arctic to have seasons, but with each passing season in recent years, less and less ice is returning to the arctic.
This means that polar bears are losing their place to sleep, walk, and hunt.
Polar bears are having to do more and more swimming to find prey.
The more polar bears have to swim, the more they need to eat.
However, this is becoming less possible because seals also have fewer places to live.
As the amount of ice decreases in the arctic, the amount of prey for the polar bear also decreases.
There are only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left.
Poaching is the illegal hunting, trapping, or killing of an animal.
Poachers have become a major problem for both polar bears and hippos, although for different reasons.
Poachers only see animals as another way to make large amounts of money or to decorate their houses to show any visitors how powerful they are.
They will do anything to get their hands on the meat and teeth of hippopotamuses.
According to the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature, the main cause for the plummet in the hippo population is poaching.
Poachers are willing to poison animals in order to achieve their goal.
In 2003, poachers killed hundreds of hippos that lived in Virunga National Park doing this.
Only 1,300 hippos remain in the park.
Many sellers of animal parts will sell their products to their illegal buyers under the guise that it is ivory instead.
Polar bears are an animal with a unique situation.
Indigenous people are allowed to hunt polar bears.
It is a tradition that dates back far before polar bears were at risk.
In the areas where indigenous people hunt polar bears, it is a necessary part of keeping the ecosystem intact.
Poachers aren’t taking this into consideration where they are hunting.
Polar bears are often hunted for their fur and to become taxidermized pieces.
Places where polar bears are most endangered include Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, Foxe Basin, Southern Hudson Bay, and Western Hudson Bay.
Polar bears’ safest habitats include the Gulf of Boothia, Kane Basic, Lancaster Sound, M’Clintock Channel, Norwegian Bay, and the Viscount Melville Sound.
These will likely be the last homes available to polar bears if something isn’t done about the melting polar ice caps and the poachers.
Their Prehistoric Presence
All of the modern-day animals that walk our Earth have ancient relatives who were around well before humans started to keep any records.
Although they may not have been recorded by name, our prehistoric relatives were able to draw them on the walls of their caves to show future generations.
Polar bears have stayed in the same areas as their prehistoric ancestors.
The polar bears stemmed from the Ursus arctos over one million years ago, according to the Canadian Museum of Nature.
A 130,000-year-old jaw bone of one of these beasts was found in Svalbard, the islands north of Norway.
It is the oldest, most well-preserved fossil that species has.
In a shocking discovery, the skull of a polar bear that was 19,000 years old was found in Scotland.
Another particular prehistoric find that shocked researchers was a 12,000- to 15,000-year-old cave painting in Spain that depicted two polar bear cubs washing up on shore.
Many ancient polar bear fossils have been found in parts of Russia and Scandinavia.
Hippos have a deeper, richer history than polar bears.
Hippos were a large part of Ancient Egpytian culture.
They were feared and respected by Ancient Egyptians.
All hippos were seen as symbols of rejuvenation and rebirth.
The Goddess Taweret, who was the protector of birthing mothers, had the head of a hippo.
She also had the tail of a crocodile and a lion’s arms and legs, and she stood upright like a human.
Male hippos were associated with the God Seth due to their violent and destructive nature.
Polar bears and hippopotamuses are completely different creatures that, under normal circumstances, would never meet or have the chance to go head-to-head.
Although they have a faint similarity, the truth of the matter is that these two could not be any more different.
They each may be some of the biggest predators in their habitats, but how they live and fight to see another day is as different as the arctic and the Sahara.
However, both species do have some things in common, although they are concerning similarities.
Both polar bears and hippos are losing their homes.
Areas where hippos were once able to graze are becoming towns and farmland where they’re no longer allowed.
The polar bears’ home is melting and falling apart.
This means that the home of their prey is melting away as well.
Both of these endangered species are fighting not only for their homeland but for their lives to not end with a poacher’s bullet.
Why fight about which animal is better when we can come together to raise awareness for the needs of all our favorite animals?