Man mauled to death by 188-stone pet hippo

A man who prided in his close friendship with a hippopotamus was killed when the 188-stone (1200kg) animal savagely attacked him.

South African farmer Marius Els, 41, believed pet hippo Humphrey – who he had raised for six years - was tame, but on Saturday Mr Els’ severed body was found submerged in the Vaal River by his farm in the North West Province.

Jeffrey Wicks, a spokesman of South Africa’s Netcare 911 said that paramedics had responded to the scene to find that the man had been bitten several times by the animal.

His body had also been immersed in the river for an unknown length of time.

Before his death, Els had told of his friendship with the animal whom he had rescued from a flood.

He had once claimed:  “Humphrey's like a son to me, he's just like a human. I trust him with my heart that he will not do harm to anybody.

“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.”

Online videos show Els and Humphrey bonding together, such as Els riding on Humphrey’s back, feeding him and even brushing his teeth.

However, Mr Els’ wife is reported as saying that the animal had caused trouble before including causing a terrified man and grandson to flee from their canoe and find sanctuary in a tree after they were chased by Humphrey.

Hippos are considered one of the world’s most dangerous animals and are known to attack humans without being provoked.

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