Danger! Hippo!

Genesis 9:2

“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.”

One well known children’s TV show in England in the 70s and 80s featured a cuddly pink hippo as one of its main characters. And in the wild, hippos look very appealing. Their plump demeanor and penchant for water and mud make them very attractive. In the 1960s, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann used the animal in one of their satirical songs, whose refrain went:

Mud, mud, glorious mud. Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow; down to the hollow. And there we will wallow in glorious mud.

When we see hippos in the zoo, we are often amused by – how shall I put this delicately – their rear end emissions. The greeny-brown soft smelly stuff is scattered in all directions as the hippo whisks it away from itself with its fast moving propeller of a tail.

However, most people also know that this plant-eating animal is extremely dangerous. It is responsible for the deaths of more people in Africa than lions. This is not merely defensive behavior. It would appear that wild hippos can be very aggressive and should be treated with great caution. Why would this be? This behavior in some animals is partly as a result of Adam’s sin and partly as a result of the world order that emerged after the Flood, when God told Noah (Genesis 9:2), “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth.”