Victim warned about 'pet' hippo

2011-11-14 10:06

Bloemfontein - An army major was killed by his pet hippopotamus, named Humphrey, on his farm in the Free State on Saturday, Volksblad reported on Monday.

Marius Els, 40, who was pictured balancing on the hippo's back, had been repeatedly warned that although friendly, Humphrey was still a wild animal and had to be treated as such.

The hippo was rescued as a calf during a flood of the Vaal River, which passes the land where Els farmed part-time.

Humphrey, estimated at around five-and-a-half years old, had been treated as a pet, and had learned to swim with humans.

The animal found a home with Els when it became too big for the people who had initially adopted it.


In August, the hippo was in the news when it was blamed for killing calves belonging to Els's business partner.

It also regularly broke out of its enclosure and chased golfers at the Orkney golf club.

At the time, Els said that the calf story had been intended to put him in a bad light after his business relationship with his partner soured, and that Humphrey's escapades on the golf course were to brighten up his social life.

Els said the sound of his voice would get Humphrey back home.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeff Wicks said that earlier this year paramedics had to rescue a 52-year-old man and his 7-year-old grandson who spent two hours in a tree after being chased by Humphrey while canoeing along the river that passes through the farm.

Els, who is survived by his pharmacist wife Louise, had called the 120kg hippo "loveable" and a "gentle giant".

  • FerretGee - 2011-11-14 10:29

    And apparantly the hippo was then shot dead by the authorities. The deceased was an idiot if he thought that he could domesticate a wild animal, know matter how much he had nurtured it. The hippo was only doing what hippos do, protect their environment. Why wasn't the hippo darted and drugged and removed to a place where it could be no threat to humanity. Darwinism rules...

      Mary - 2011-11-14 14:39

      On the other hand, Humphrey had about five good years which wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been rescued as a calf. It's all relative.

  • Rolf - 2011-11-14 10:35

    120kg hippo.. shouldn't have been a match for Els..

      Marc - 2011-11-14 10:52

      Agreed Rolf, a very sad story but a magnificent typo.

  • SamuraiMama - 2011-11-14 10:42

    "Victim??!!" Nee boet. Rather call him stupid

      Will - 2011-11-14 12:14

      Yup, the hippo was the only victim here.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2011-11-14 17:00

      And caring - even if it was doff, he was trying to help the hippo after all.

  • Bob - 2011-11-14 11:41

    If that Hippo weighs a 120kg then poor old Marius must weigh about 10kg, I must say he looks a little heavier than that.

  • Marion - 2011-11-14 12:08

    While I feel for Marius (RIP) and send my sincere condolences to his family, I have to question whether he is not a candidate for the Darwin Awards. A wild animal will always be a wild animal and we forget that at our peril.

  • gillian.sanderson - 2011-11-14 15:37

    When ignoramus meets hippopotamus . . .

  • Wendy - 2011-11-14 16:56

    The man may have weighted 120 kg but hippos weigh 4 000 kg (4 tons). Poor reporting and makes one doubt the other facts.

  • leslie.rabie - 2011-11-14 19:25

    Hi friendly people from the city..... hippo's are pouched too!!!! they just don't make the news. RIGHT ON GEORGE... Hippo meat can be eaten and at least some empty tummies will be filled.

  • Chabi - 2011-11-14 19:34

    Get yourself a Cat in your next life ...

  • Eland - 2011-11-14 20:34

    He who rides others will be ridden one day: Probably the hippo decided it was its turn to ride on the back of this moron.

      louwc - 2011-11-14 21:27

      So Steve Irwin is also a moron? I always said he played with fire, he did it to educate and do his best for nature. He was unfortunate, but passed away doing what he loved. Maybe this guy's best was just not so well thought through or based on proper education on the subject of looking after hippos. And after the incident with the two people in the tree and several golfers at Orkney being chased, the authorities should have stepped in and prevented what i believe is a double tradgedy. A husband and father killed and an innocent hippo shot....Spare a thought for this human's life and his family's grief and spare a thought for the hippo...

  • andrea.willmore - 2011-11-14 21:17

    I saw a documentary on Oprah or something similar a couple of years ago about people who had wild animals as pets ... and the Els and Humphrey story was one of them. I thought then that he was crazy, but obviously the authorities didn't. He was globally famous for his stupidity and no-one did anything about it then.

  • Snowbell - 2011-11-15 08:03

    He named the Hippo Humphrey??, No wonder the Hippo took revenge, this is not a name for a Hippo.......The name is used for a Camel with no Humps:-D

  • Mampane - 2011-11-15 08:23

    An wild animal is wild, no matter how you might have helped or rescued it. The wild side will always be there and will come out sooner or later. This things cannot communicate with humans, when they feel that you crossed the line, they will not tell you, they just attack to defend themselves they only way they know how, kill you.

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