When God created the world he made all the animals in Heaven and carefully placed them on Earth. Eventually the waters and lands were filled. It was hard work, and God was tired and needed a rest. On returning to Heaven He found Hippopotamus waiting by the gate for his turn to be placed on Earth.
God sighed, and told Hippo that Earth was full with animals, birds and fish and that there was no room for him. He invited Hippo to stay in Heaven. But Hippo, being the stubborn character that he is, decided he was not going to take no for an answer. Besides, he wanted to go to where all his friends had gone.
“I have an idea,” Hippo said. “Put me on Earth with all the other animals and I will spend the day in water. At night I will go onto the land.”
“But Hippo, you have sharp teeth,” God reminded him.
“I promise to eat nothing but grass,” Hippo replied. “I really want to live on Earth, God. Please send me there.”
As a compromise God told Hippo that He would place him on Earth for a week. Hippo was delighted, and made sure he stuck to their agreement: water by day, land at night. And he only ate grass.
As the week drew to a close God informed Hippo that he would be bringing him back to heaven: “This arrangement just does not work for me. How do I know you’re not going to decide to eat one of the other animals?”
Hippo loved living on Earth so much he made a promise to God: “I will not eat another animal, and to prove it I will forever let you see my dung.”
Which is why to honour the agreement he made with his creator, Hippo spreads his dung with his tail to show God: “Look – I’m only eating plants. No bones!”