Baby Hippo by artists Gillie and Marc

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NAME
Nerida named by Jodie West

TITLE
Wild Baby Hippo

GENDER
Female

AGE
2 months

FOUND
Africa

CONSERVATION STATUS
Vulnerable

Being in the water is one of the nicest ways to escape the scorching sun of Africa. This 2-month-old baby hippo loves getting wet, a born swimmer even if she may not look it. She feels safe here, but her family pool is starting to get a bit crowded. There aren’t as many water holes for the hippos to choose from anymore so they have to share which can be scary for the baby when the adults start to annoy each other. She dreams that by the time she grows up there will be enough space for everyone.

The water-loving giants were given the name “river horse” by the Greeks and for good reason. The hippopotamus spends up to 16 hours of their day in the water, keeping cool from the baking African sun. They are very graceful swimmers and can hold their breath for up to minutes. This isn’t surprising considering their closest relatives are whales and dolphins. They secrete an oily red substance to protect themselves from the harsh rays which act as a sunblock and moisturiser and may even protect them against germs. This red stuff sparked a few rumours that they sweat blood but we can assure you that this isn’t true!

As the sun goes down the hippos come out of the water to graze on grasses. Hippos can get a bit feisty. They are highly aggressive and very unpredictable making them one of the most dangerous animals in the world. They are very good runners and can match humans for speed for short distances. They also have an impressive yawn which can be used as a threat display.

Hippos love the water so much they even mate and give birth there. The baby must swim to the surface to take their first breath, so they really are born swimming! They need a lot of help from mum, often resting on her back if the water is too deep, or to stay up high and protected from predators such as crocodiles, lions, hyenas and male hippos. When they want to suckle, they may have to do it underwater, where they close their ears and nostrils so they don’t breathe in water. Hippo mothers are very protective of their calves, but will sometimes leave them in nurseries under the watchful eye of a few adults. Here, the babies can have play fights with other calves, developing important skills for when they are full grown. The calves are fully weaned after a year.

Hippos are threatened by climate change, which not only causes habitat loss as their favourite water holes dry up, but the reduced wet season means they are also seeing their food options dwindle. Furthermore, they are at a major risk of poaching as they are killed for their meat, as well as the ivory from their tusks. Like elephants, this ivory is worth a lot of money and is a huge draw for many people desperate to make a living. Many local people are also reliant on their meat for food.

HOW TO HELP 
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals. 

Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals. 

​The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.

To help protect these babies you can adopt them and help them via the WWF: > Click here: www.wwf.org.au 

If you are interested in buying Wild About Babies related art, you will also be directly helping real babies in the wild with 30% going to WWF to continue their fantastic work for animals conservation: Click here to browse art https://gillieandmarc.com/collections/wild-about-babies

ABOUT GILLIE AND MARC
Gillie and Marc’s highly coveted public artworks can be found worldwide including in New York, London, Singapore, Shanghai, and Sydney. They are Archibald Prize finalists, won the Chianciano Biennale in Italy, took out the Allens People’s Choice Award in 2016 and 2018 and Kids’ Choice Award in the 2016 Sculpture by the Sea and received the Bayside Arts Festival People's Choice Award in 2019 in Sydney.

The husband-and-wife duo are on a mission to make art for a better tomorrow. They are best known for their beloved characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman, who tell the autobiographical tale of two opposites coming together as best friends and soul mates.

Gillie and Marc are also passionate eco-warriors and have dedicated their lives to protecting nature.

Gillie grew up with the wildlife in Zambia and Marc studied chimpanzees in Tanzania as a young man. Over time, the artists developed a deep appreciation for all living things and a desire to preserve the magnificence of the natural world. 

Through their art, Gillie and Marc aim to transform passive audiences into passionate advocates for animal conservation. Their mission is to use their work as a platform to continue spreading awareness about endangerment, which will ultimately lead to change and save species from extinction.

Their art has raised hundreds of thousands in donations for the many wildlife charities and causes they support through their project Love The Last.

Please follow @gillieandmarcart