So You Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas? Think Again – Man Mauled to Death by ‘Pet’ Hippo He Described as ‘Like a Son’



Everybody knows the famous Christmas song ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,’ but you may want to think twice before actually adding a hippo to your Christmas list.

Just as we’re getting ready to kick 2020 out the door, this wild year throws yet another punch on the way out.

A man in South Africa was found fatally wounded over the weekend after reportedly being mauled to death by his pet hippo, who Fox 10 says he had previously referred to as “like a son to [him].” Marius Els, who resided in the Free State province of South Africa was discovered dead in the river with multiple bite wounds from the massive animal.

Els, 40, had taken the hippo in to care for it in when he was found as just a calf. Earlier this year, footage of Els riding the more than 2,000-pound animal- whom he named “Humphrey” – went viral on social media.

Based on what the South African farmer told the Daily Mirror, “Humphrey” was a lot like a big dog for Els. He responded to his calls, enjoyed playing with him, and he even said he would brush the hippo’s gigantic teeth.

“It’s a little bit dangerous, but I trust him with my heart that he will not harm anybody,” Els said, according to Daily Mirror. “I can swim with him. I go in the water. He allows me to get on his back, and I ride him like a horse. He swims with me.”

An ambulance spokesman told the Daily Mirror that paramedics found Els immersed in a river and it was unclear how long he might have remained in the water.

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