Here’s one for the books: a 2-year-old boy living in Uganda was swallowed head-first by a hippo before spitting him back out and making a hasty retreat. Sound made up? Definitely, but according to news reports, it really did happen. The child is a resident of Katwe Kabatoro Town Council in the western Kasese District of Uganda, local police confirmed. Regardless, it’s a wild story, to be sure.
Truth is Stranger Than Fiction
Newsweek covered the startling event, noting that a man named Chrispas Bagonza managed to save the boy by throwing stones at the hippo. Hippos, by the way, are responsible for more human deaths in sub-Saharan Africa than any other wild creature. Commonly found in wetlands, rivers, lakes, and swamps, they are known for being ill-tempered and powerful, with adults weighing between 2,800 to 7,000 pounds and growing to between 7 and 16 feet in length. National Geographic estimates hippos kill about 500 people each year.
Reports indicate the toddler was playing in or near his home when the incident occurred. After being pelted with rocks, the animal then managed to throw him back up and out before beating feet for Lake Edward half a mile away. For reference, it’s situated on Uganda’s western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While attacks in water are not that uncommon, something like this is just mind-blowing to try to wrap your head around.
“This is the first such kind of incident where a hippo strayed out of Lake Edward and attacked a young child,” the Uganda Police declared in a statement. “We want to remind all residents of Katwe Kabatoro Town Council, which is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park, to remain vigilant and always alert [park] rangers about animals that have strayed into their neighborhoods.”
Lived to Tell the Tale
What’s almost as bizarre is that the boy got out of it relatively unscathed and was back home with his parents in no time at all. In addition to being treated for minor injuries, he received a rabies vaccination while he was at the hospital. How the animal’s teeth did not harm him or the pressure of its throat muscles as it was attempting to swallow him is anyone’s guess.
The Stuff of Nightmares
Hippos are capable of opening their mouths to an astonishing 150 degrees and have an extremely powerful bite. “Their bite strength…is around three times greater than that of a lion,” Lochran Traill, an ecologist and conservation scientist from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, previously told Newsweek. “That is why they are so dangerous — they cause substantial trauma to the human body through crushing force, whether this be through biting or by trampling.”
This article by Rebecca West was first published by The Animal Rescue Site. Lead Image: PIXABAY/MLBAY.
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