Many people told South African farmer Marius Els that he couldn’t possible domesticate a Hippopotamus but the 40-year-old army major wouldn’t take their word for it and now he has been killed by his “hippo son.”
The man’s 6-year-old wild “pet” hippo (which he as been raising since 5-months-old) was considered a part of the family and weighed in at 2,600 pounds.
Els was so close to the hippo that he would ride on it’s back, feed it and pet it. It was during a ride on his pets back that Els was grabbed by the wild animal and dragged into the water where he drowned.
In an earlier interview Els said of his pet:
“Humphrey’s like a son to me, he’s just like a human.”
Els would later add:
“There’s a relationship between me and Humphrey and that’s what some people don’t understand … They think you can only have a relationship with dogs, cats and domestic animals. But I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa.”
While Marius called his hippopotamus a “gentle giant” Humphrey was known to cause issues, including one incident in which he chased a grandfather and grandson into the trees while they were canoeing. Humphrey also broke out of his enclosure on several occasions and made his way to a local golf club where he would chase golfers around the course.
Here’s a video chronicling the Marius Els and Humphrey relationship:
There’s good reason the hippo is considered one of the most dangerous animals on the planet, this tragic event should serve as a reminder that wild animals should be given the respect they deserve.