A two-year-old boy in Uganda lived through a Pincocchio-like tale when a hippo swallowed him whole and then threw up. Not only did he survive the harrowing ordeal, but he only suffered a few minor cuts and bruises.
Newsweek reported that the child was playing near his home in Katwe Kabatoro Town Council, which is in the western Kasese District of the country when the animal came out of nowhere and seemingly inhaled him headfirst.
A man named Chrispas Bagonza witnessed the event and was able to save the boy by throwing stones at the hippopotamus. According to police, Bagonza startled the hippo by making the scene, and he caused it to regurgitate the child. Once it did, the animal ran into Lake Edward, which is located about half a mile away from the child’s home.
Authorities rushed the young victim to a local hospital where he received a rabies vaccination and treatment for his minor injuries. He is now back home with his family and doing well.
Hippos Are the Most Dangerous Land Animals in the World
Hippos are considered the most dangerous land animal in the world, which often surprises people. The massive mammals kill around 500 people a year, according to BBC. To put that in perspective, that’s twice as many as lions kill.
While they are herbivores, they are incredibly aggressive and commonly attack people and other animals unprovoked. When they target someone, that person stands little chance to escape or defend themselves. Hippos can charge at 18 mph, and they have a crushing body that weighs 3,000 to 9,000 pounds and massive, powerful jaws.
“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, told the publication. “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.”
The good news is that hippos don’t go hunting for humans. So, venturing away from the water and into communities is rare. In fact, authorities said that no one had ever reported such an event before.
“This is the first such kind of incident where a hippo strayed out of Lake Edward and attacked a young child,” a spokesperson with the Uganda Police Force said in a statement on Dec. 12.
“We want to remind all residents of Katwe Kabatoro Town Council, which is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park, to remain vigilant,” they continued. “And always alert [park] rangers about animals that have strayed into their neighborhoods.”