US Tourist Attacked by Irate Hippo in Zimbabwe

Local media insinuate she was reckless; her husband, mother-in-law push back on that
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2018 8:44 AM CST
Irate Mama Hippo Puts US Tourist in Hospital
Yikes.   (Getty Images/Nick Shillan)

A tour company offering expeditions down Zimbabwe's Zambezi River is called Wild Horizons, but one Florida woman's canoe adventure turned a bit too wild. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Kristen Yaldor remains in intensive care in a South African hospital after she was attacked on the river by a hippopotamus, considered one of the most dangerous creatures in the world. Yaldor and her husband, Ryan, were in Zimbabwe to celebrate her 37th birthday, but as they floated down the river, their vessel apparently spooked a mother hippo, whose calf was hunkered down under the water's surface with her. The protective mama sent the Yaldors' canoe flying, and while Ryan was able to make it to shore, Kristen was dragged underneath the water by the upset animal, which clamped down on her leg and broke her femur.

She finally got away, but it took at least an hour for a medical chopper to arrive, then 13 more to get to a hospital in neighboring South Africa. Kristen is being painted by some local media as being a reckless US tourist who didn't heed instructions, with the Sunday News quoting a witness as saying the Yaldors got "too close" to the hippo (it also misidentified her as "Christine" Yaldor). But Ryan says no one informed them a baby hippo may have been nearby or that they may have been in danger. He also notes their guide's cellphone and radio weren't functioning, which delayed help after the attack. His mom also disputes that he and his wife were to blame for what happened. "The facts here are so distorted and misstated," Martine Yaldor tells the Times, adding the two didn't do "anything frivolous." (A hippo killed a Chinese tourist in Kenya over the summer.)

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