Hippopotamuses can become airborne for substantial periods of time, researchers discover

Hippopotamuses can become airborne for substantial periods of time, according to new research into the mammals.

Research by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) found that the animals can be up in the air for up to 0.3 seconds at a time when moving fast.

The findings found that unlike other land animals such as elephants, horses and rhinos, hippos exclusively trot when moving, pushing the limits of what giant land animals can do, the RVC said.

As part of the research, it monitored video footage taken of two hippos moving around their paddock at Flamingo Land Resort in Yorkshire.

Internet footage of hippos moving was also monitored, allowing the RVC to broaden scientific understanding of the species.

"We're thrilled to provide the first study purely focused on revealing how hippos walk and run," Professor John Hutchinson, lead author of the study, said.

"We were pleasantly surprised to see how hippos get airborne when they move quickly - it's really impressive!"

He said very little was previously known about how hippos move, due to them typically sticking to water and the danger they pose to humans.

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Kieran Holliday, science and conservation officer at Flamingo Land Resort, added: "I am delighted that we could help facilitate and aid in the collection of this valuable data in this exceptional publication.

"The fact that this paper has uncovered possible new discoveries into hippo locomotion could have positive impacts to the wider zoo community in regards to husbandry and enclosure design."

Weighing up to 8,000Ibs, hippos are the heaviest land animal after the elephant, according to wildlife charity WWF.

There are between 115,000 and 300,000 hippos in the wild, mainly in rivers and lakes throughout sub-Saharan Africa.