Fernandez, E. J., Ramirez, M., Hawkes, N. C. 2020. Activity and pool use in relation to temperature and water changes in zoo hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibious). Animals 10(6), 1022.

In the wild, hippopotamuses spend much of their daily activity in the water. In zoos, it is less clear the extent to which hippos spend time in the water. We examined how much time Woodland Park Zoo’s three hippos spent in their outdoor pool, based on: (a) temperature of the pool water, and (b) when the pool water was changed (approximately three times a week). Several digital temperature data loggers collected water and air temperature readings once every hour for six months. We correlated the water temperature readings with several behaviors the hippos could engage in, where the hippos were on exhibit (pool vs. land), and how many days it had been since a dump (0, 1, or 2 days). The results indicated that water changes had little effect on pool usage, while increasing water temperatures resulted in both increased activity and pool use. The results are discussed in terms of how these findings relate to wild hippo activity, current knowledge of zoo-housed hippo welfare, and future directions for zoo-housed hippo welfare and research.