Saturday, November 27, 2010

Irate hippo lunged and threw veterinarian into a pool

Dragged to safety by a colleague, this veterinarian got a bit more than he bargained for after attempting to sedate an irate hippo.

Dr Markus Hofmeyr narrowly escaped serious injury after the animal lunged at him and threw him into a pool by Crocodile River in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

The enraged creature was just inches from trampling on the unfortunate vet but thanks to intervention by colleague Dr Nico de Bruin he was pulled to safety just in time.

The incident occurred after the hippopotamus was shot with a tranquiliser dart in an attempt to test a new chemical for sedating the animals.

After the creature had been darted it had sat sedately in the shallow pool, and appeared to be passive as scientists began their work.

But the experts rushed to its aid after its head dropped below the surface of the water.

Dr Hofmeyr said: 'We suspect that it got water in its nose, which stimulated it back into consciousness.

'The animal was very dazed and confused when it straightened up again. It snapped in our direction and then came for us.

'The hippo passed between us and made for the deeper water.'

The furious animal made another lunge at the retreating pair before they were able to scramble on to a nearby mud bank.

A game ranger then shot and killed the animal.

'It is regrettable that the hippo had to die, but for our safety's sake it had to be shot.

'The scientific team were attempting to develop an alternative sedative drug to the one currently available.

'The conventional drug was originally designed for elephants and rhinos and is too strong for hippopotamus,' Dr Hofmeyr said.

'The biggest problem with darted hippos is that they usually flee into the water. Many then drown.

'That is why we started doing research to develop a more suitable substance specifically for hippos.

'A lesson we definitely learned from this incident is to muzzle these animals in future.'

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