A hippopotamus attacks a young boy and then spits him out : NPR


A hippopotamus recently attacked a boy in Uganda – and the boy survived after a bystander took action, police say. A hippopotamus is seen here in the Victoria Nile near Murchison Falls in northwestern Uganda.

Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images


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Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images


A hippopotamus recently attacked a boy in Uganda – and the boy survived after a bystander took action, police say. A hippopotamus is seen here in the Victoria Nile near Murchison Falls in northwestern Uganda.

Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images

First things first: The two-year-old boy who was attacked by a hippopotamus in Uganda was rescued and made a full recovery, police say. But they also say the hippopotamus had the boy in its jaws – with the child’s head and torso in the animal’s mouth – before a brave bystander rescued the boy.

The attack happened around 3pm on December 4 while the boy was playing at his home near a lake in western Uganda’s Kasese district. The area includes several major national parks and game reserves, as well as a number of lakes and safari lodges.

The boy, Iga Paul, was rescued after a bystander, identified as Chrispas Bagonza, “stoned and frightened the hippopotamus, causing it to release the victim from its mouth,” Uganda’s national police said, citing a Territorial Police report.

“This is the first such incident,” police said, in which a hippo left nearby Lake Edward and attacked a child. According to the agency, the boy’s family lives about 800 meters from the lake.

The hippo fled the scene after dropping the boy – who was quickly rushed to a local medical clinic for injuries to his hand. He was then taken to a hospital for further treatment.

“He made a full recovery and was discharged after receiving a rabies vaccination,” police said.

Ugandan authorities are reminding people in the area to watch out for wild animals and to report any intrusion into their neighborhood.

“Wild animals instinctively see humans as a threat, and any interaction can cause them to behave strangely or aggressively,” police said.

The case has garnered a lot of attention, sparking speculation as to whether the hippopotamus might have tried to swallow or eat the boy – and it’s worth noting that hippos are known to be herbivores, eating vast amounts of grass. But as the Uganda-based Exclusive African Safaris website notes, scientists have confirmed that the animals can also eat meat, especially when other foods are scarce.

Hippos are also known to attack other animals and humans when they feel threatened or disturbed. Numerous media outlets, from National Geographic to the BBC, cite estimates that hippos kill 500 people each year in incidents ranging from animal attacks and boat capsizing to direct attacks.

“Their ability to tear apart most animals – including lions or crocodiles – is why the hippopotamus is indeed the most dangerous wild animal on the African savannah,” says Exclusive African Safaris’ website.

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