A 5-ton hippo shows she would certainly benefit from a trip to the dentist in this jaw-dropping moment captured by an amateur photographer.
But her calf certainly wouldn’t be suggesting she needs to look at her pearly whites or joking that she’s got a long tooth for getting a close-up view of the power rodent.
The giant hippopotamus is considered one of the most dangerous mammals in the world, and after seeing these terrifying teeth, it’s easy to see why.
But in this stunning series of photos, the mother hippo shows the hippopotamus also has a gentle side, as she playfully splashes around while the cub explores the world around them.
British amateur wildlife photographer Philip Cousins captured these pictures of hippos in the sanctuary at Valencia Zoo, Spain, while the animals swim along a glass wall, making it possible for the world to see the touching exchange.
The patient hippopotamus carried the calf – only a few months old – to grab her and climb onto her back like a boisterous toddler.
And though the mother teased the calf, opening her mouth wide as if she’s about to bite him, she did nothing more than give him a slight nudge in the nose.
Philip, who now lives in the Spanish city, said: ‘The hippos are kept in a large enclosure, with a glass wall at the zoo, and are always very happy.
‘This was the first time I had seen the calf there, but I believe it’s about five or six months old. It was pretty engaging, the baby and mom actually played the whole time – something you wouldn’t expect a hippo to do.
‘The calf swims around its mother and sometimes snaps at her or stands on her back, and
the mother pretends to bite it. That’s why her mouth is open.
‘Mother didn’t seem to notice the people watching them but the baby sometimes came close to the glass to see and also played himself bouncing up and out and down from the surface in a stream of bubbles – all very exciting. ”
Hippos are the third-largest land mammal after elephants and rhinos and are native to Africa, where they stay cool during the day by staying in mud or water before emerging at night to gnaw on grass.
However, they are threatened by po.ac.hers for their ivory teeth, and also by habitat loss. They can weigh up to 9 tons but can still easily outnumber humans.
Hippos are also very aggressive and ill-tempered, especially when it comes to protecting their territory and their young. Such characteristics mean that few predators – apart from humans – dare to target them.