Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/497

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SIZE OF THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.

forbidding and appalling, and I am not surprised to hear of people losing their presence of mind on being suddenly brought into contact with the monster, whose horrible jaws, when fully distended, afford ample accommodation for a man.[1]

The size of the H. amphibius is enormous. The adult male attains a length of eleven or twelve feet, the circumference of its body being nearly the same. Its height, however, seldom much exceeds four and a half feet. The female is a good deal smaller than the male, but in general appearance the sexes are nearly alike.

The following dimensions of the female hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, may enable those who are curious in the matter to form some notion of the progressive growth of the animal—at least in a state of confinement—when young:

On its arrival, July 22, 1854. At present, Jan., 1856.
From nose to tip of tail          8 ft. 4 in.         " 10 ft. 1 in.
Circumference of body 7 1   " 8 9
Height at shoulder 3 5   " 3 10

The hippopotamus, when in the water—I won't say its "native element," for it seems to belong as much to the land as the deeps—swims and dives like a duck, and, considering its great bulk and unwieldiness of form, in a manner perfectly astonishing. When on terra firma, however, what with its dumpy legs and the weight they have to support, its progress is any thing but rapid.

"The hippopotamus, amidst the flood
Flexile and active as the smallest swimmer,
But on the bank ill-balanced and infirm."

Even were the beast to charge—provided the locality was tolerably open—a man would have no great difficulty in getting out of his way. It is seldom met with at any consid-

  1. In an old painting at Hampton Court representing the Last Judgment, the mouth of the hippopotamus is said to be figured as the entrance of the "place of the wicked."