Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How I made friends with Humphrey the happy hippo (who even gives me piggyback rides across the river)

Tale from the riverbank: Marius Els with his pet hippo Humphrey at his farm in Free State, South Africa

The hippo is most dangerous animal in the whole of Africa.

But they're not all bad - as these incredible pictures show.

A South African farmer has developed a friendship with one that is so trustworthy, the hippo helps him cross lakes on his 400-acre farmstead.

Balancing act: Marius manages to stay on Humphrey's back as he cadges a lift across the river with the tame hipp at his farm in Free State, South Africa

Marius Els breeds 20 different species of wildlife on land near Petrus Steynlakes, including giraffe, buffalo, rhinos and antelope.

But he has a real soft spot for Humphrey, whom he bought aged just five months and allows to roam free. He even built a dam to create a 200m wide and 18m deep lake that is perfect for wallowing in.

Across we go: Marius Els bought Humphrey when he was just five months old and is looking for a mate but tame females are hard to come bywith his pet hippo Humphre

The gargantuan pet is now six, and as Marius, 40, explains, 'could rip a man my size apart with no problem'.

Sometimes he does get tired of his ferrying role. 'If he decides to get me off his back, then he throws me over like a horse.'

However, it is usually a case of Marius clinging on for dear life as Humphrey plunging through the water like like a giant grey tank .

Best friends: Marius pats the back of 1,200kg Humphrey who is so powerful he could rip a human apart in an instant

The powerful hippopotamus, who at 1200kg weighs well over a metric tonne, is such a strong swimmer that the water barely reaches Marius' knees before they ride to the far side of the lake where the two sit down for a well deserved break.

'Humphrey's like a son to me, he's just like a human,' said Marius,
'There's a relationship between me and Humphrey and that's what some people don't understand.

source: dailymail

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