Woman on wildlife tour attacked by hippo when canoe capsized

An Odessa, Florida woman on a wildlife tour in Zimbabwe, was attacked by a hippo when the canoe she was in with three other guests and two guides capsized on the Zmabezi River.

According to the Miami Herald, Kristen and Ryan Yaldor had planned the safari in celebration of Kristen’s 37th birthday. The tour group, led by Wild Horizons, had been canoeing along the river, when one of the guides spotted a hippopotamus near the river’s edge. Telling the group to paddle away from the animal caring for her calf, the hippo apparently became aggressive protecting her baby and went under the canoe flipping it over.

As Ryan was able to swim to the shore in less than 30 seconds and called for his wife, she emerged from the water with her right leg in the hippo’s mouth. The hippo pulled Kristen under the water as she tried to swim away towards the shore biting the woman’s leg. The tour guide was able to pull her to the river bank where first aid was administered and she was then airlifted to a local hospital.

Kristen suffered a fracture to her right femur and has since undergone two surgeries.

Wild Horizons do perform safety procedures with all guests prior to tours, including the mechanics of rowing down a river and the competency to do so, however wild animals always remain unpredictable especially hippos when guarding their offspring. As odd as it may seem, according to BBC News, the hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal killing nearly 500 people per year in Africa.

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