Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Leeds Museums and Galleries - Leeds City Museum.

This resource explores what Leeds was like 125,000 years ago and whether there really were Hippos wandering around.

A Global View:

Around the same time that hippos were wandering Leeds, Homo Sapiens first began to leave Africa (roughly 120,000 years ago). Every human today descends from this small group of African Homo Sapiens. Neanderthals were also thriving in Europe (and would continue to survive for another 80,000 years alongside Homo Sapiens).


Curriculum Links

  • KS1 & 2 History: Chronology; Local Study
  • KS1 & 2 Geography: Locational Knowledge, Human and Physical
  • KS1 & 2 Science: Animals, Plants, Habitats, Rocks and Fossils


Activity Ideas

  • Find out about the habitats of wild hippos today. What countries can you find them in? What do they eat? Do they have any predators?
  • The scientific name for a hippo is Hippopotamus amphibius – why do you think this is? (Hippo = horse, potamus = river, amphibious = double life (land and water))
  • What adaptations do hippos have for a semi-aquatic lifestyle?
  • Look at a hippo skull either at Leeds City Museum or on the Internet. Look at the position of the eyes on the head. Look at the teeth. How can you tell whether hippos are herbivores or carnivores?
  • Learn an Indian style dance inspired by the Armley Hippo in this instructional video:
  • Can you find Armley on a map? Clues: It is North of Holbeck, South West of Leeds General Infirmary, South of Headingley, and has a gyratory!
  • Imagine you have discovered the Armley Hippo and you want to display it at the City Museum. Create your own hippo skeletons and your own exhibition with museum labels for visitors to read.
  • Write about the day in the life of the Armley Hippo. Think about where and when it would look for food, how it would avoid being burnt by the sun, how and why it might defend it’s babies so aggressively.
  • Find out about the last Ice Age. How do you think the last Ice Age affected the landscape and animals in the north of England?
  • Research an animal that lived during the Ice Age. Draw a picture of the animal. Find out what it ate, what its predators are and whether it has any descendants living today. Create your own Ice Age mural showing everything you have discovered.
  • Imagine you are living in the next ice age. Write about and draw what life would be like.
  • Draw or paint a picture, create a 3D scene or a animation to show what it was like in Leeds 125,000 years ago
  • Find out what the word 'extinct' means and list some animals that have become extinct in the past.
  • List all the reasons why some animals become extinct and some survive?
  • Find out about some animals that are at risk of extinction today. Write down why they might become extinct and try to think of ways to help them to survive.