THROWBACK: How a Hippo-pet named ‘Humphrey’ Mauled his Owner to Death

In 2011, a hippopotamus turned on his owner and mauled him to death.

The 1.2 tonne hippopotamus turned pet, was christened Humphrey by his owner, retired Army Major named Marius Els who took the animal in when it was just 5 months old.

He had raised and groomed the animal on his farm in Free State, South Africa, and often turned down warnings from family and friends who told him that it was impossible to train or tame a wild animal such as the hippopotamus.

However, then 40-year-old major found their counsel contemptible and chose rather to go as far as building a dam on his farm for Humphrey to swim in his natural habitat.

He even referred to the hippo as more than an animal, describing it as a human being. He even told journalists at some point that Humphrey was “like a son to me.”

Els developed quite a bond with the animal that at times, he was seen riding on the animal’s back. He would even brush his teeth and feed him.

Tragedy struck however, when Els’ body was on 13th November, 2011 found submerged in the same pond he found Humphrey in, 6 years before.

Paramedics declared him dead with his body littered with alot of wounds supposedly inflicted by Humphrey.

Earlier that year, Els had uploaded a video on YouTube, where he said the following: “I call him, and he immediately responds to come and play with me. I feed him apples. He opens his mouth. Big jaws, and teeth like this. It’s a little bit dangerous, but I trust him with my heart that he will not harm anybody.”

“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.”

Els added: “He’s like a son to me. 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.”

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