They look kinda cuddly. Big and rounded and plump, a little like enormous porkers. But in fact, they're the most dangerous land mammals in Africa--more so than lions, or leopards, or even Cape Buffalo. Catch one yawning, though, and you'll see why. With that array of dentition, a hippo is not to be messed with.

I thought about putting them on pots after sketching a few at the Oregon Zoo, but might never had done so but for a hippopotamus collector, who commissioned a whole bunch of hippopottery. Apparently, collecting hippos is a thing, with websites, FaceBook groups, even conventions. She showed me photos of a custom hippo-van, painted pink, complete with waggy tail that sprayed whitewash on unwary watchers. (If you don't get the joke, Google "hippo defecating." If you dare.)

Since then, I've continued with the occasional hippopot, usually dessert plate or tall mug. You never know when you'll surprise an unwary hippo collector.

Or as I call 'em, hipsters.