This here-post breaks two of my rules. For starters, it’s not news. Indeed, it details events that occurred from 2005 to 2011. Also, it veers from my usual lighthearted, nonsensical fare into something tragic. So, if you continue reading and regret your decision, don’t come crying to me. You’ve been warned.
This tragic event came to my attention as I scrolled through social media. A site that shares random facts decided the world needed to be reminded that a hippopotamus was rescued from a river in 2005. And that in 2011 the then-6-year-old two-ton hippo dragged the South African man who had rescued him into that same river and killed him.
I warned you that this tale would not uplift you!
Anyway, the tidbit I read only teased me. Afterward, I had oodles of questions. Firstly, how does one rescue a hippo? It’s not like rescuing a stray kitten that shows up on your porch or adopting a rescued dog from the shelter. Thankfully, a reader shared a link to a story, which answered this question and others.
The man who was dragged into the river and killed didn’t initially rescue the hippopotamus. Another couple rescued the hippo from a flood when it was a few months old. The man who was dragged into the river and killed adopted the hippo when the wild beast grew too large for the couple to care for.
I’m not sure why no one returned the baby hippo to the river before the situation got out of hand, but they didn’t ask my advice circa 2005.
Before we go further, here are some facts that I’ve unearthed about hippos. They’re huge — they can weigh up to 9,000 pounds. They have the largest mouths of all land animals. They can run as fast as humans over short distances. They’re basically herbivores, maintaining a diet of grass and fruit. They’re aggressive and not afraid of humans. They upend boats and have been known to attack motor vehicles.
Of course, unless you’re planning a trip to sub-Saharan Africa, you don’t have to worry about running into a hippo and its huge mouth. If you are heading that way, watch out. They kill an average of 500 humans a year.
As for this blended hippo-human family, well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’d be watching a basketball game or cleaning house or scribbling one of my endless lists and, all of a sudden, I’d say to myself, “Self, who adopts a hippo?”
All I know is that he was a South African farmer. According to the aforementioned story, he referred to the father-son relationship he and the hippo had – allegedly — developed. His wife wasn’t as sold on the addition to the family.
Perhaps her apprehension could be attributed to the allegations that the hippo killed his “father’s” business partner’s calves. Or that he chased a couple locals, who had to seek shelter in a tree, until the hippo’s “father” lured the hippo away with an apple.
Or the fact that he was a huge expletive wild beast with a huge expletive jaw who shouldn’t have been living around humans.
This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.