Mar 31, 2011
In the wild west frontiersmen rode horses, in ancient India warriors were known to mount elephants and in parts of Africa legend has it that ostridges were the choice of transportation. But in 21st Century South Africa Marius Els plays, swims and even rides Humphrey the hippo. Raising the 1,200 kg animal since it was just five months old, Marius has a unique bond with the six year old male who lives on his farm. Pictured here in a dam specially built by Marius the hippo is free to wander the open plains of the farm though due to safety reasons can only interact with his life long friend.
A farmer was mauled to death by his pet hippo in central South Africa last weekend. Marius Els, 40, was bitten and dragged into water by the hippo known as Humphrey.
Humphrey is about six years old and had been Els' pet since he was rescued as a calf from a flood on the Vaal River in the Free State province, according to the National Post.
As seen in the video above from earlier this year, Els was quite fond of Humphrey and considered him a close friend. Els said "Humphrey's like a son to me, he's just like a human." Yet Els did know the inherent risk of keeping such an animal as a pet. He admits in the video, "It's a little bit dangerous."
In addition to the 1,200 kilogram (2,645 pounds) hippo, Els also raised 20 different species of exotic animals on his 400-acre farm. When paramedics arrived at Els' farm, he had been submerged in the river "for an unknown period" and was pronounced dead on the scene, according to The Daily Mail.
Hippos, which are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, are currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.