By Tom Gillespie @TomGillespie1

PLAYFUL young hippos show their teeth as they splash around in the water

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The playful animals make a splash

One of the animals even appeared to jump on top of the other as delighted tourists watched on.

Mouth to mouth: The calves use their jaws as they wrestle in the water

The hippos were photographed by nature guide Stacey Farrell in the St Lucia Estuary in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The animals keep their heads just above water

According to Stacey the young animals were aged between two and four years old.

The 30-year-old said: “Seeing young hippos playing like this in their natural environment gives me hope that we are moving in the right direction in saving animsls like them from poaching.

The happy hippos appear to be having a great time

"Watching any youngster play is always a special thing to witness.

“The family was resting not too far from the babies playing, just keeping a watchful eye on them.

A third hippo appears to be watching the action

“Unfortunately we cannot tell whether these young hippos were male or female."

Child's play: The young animals are enjoying each other's company

Stacey works for Shoreline Hippo and Croc Cruises, and says the animals are so used to people they let boats come right-up close.

One of the hippos appears to jump on the other

The hippos are also known to walk around the local town of St Lucia where Stacey lives.

The photos were taken in January of this year, but the photographer has only now decided to share them with the media.