From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Once a hippo, usually a hippo

(Photo by Georgio)
Tragedies can often be averted by not expecting lions to lie down with lambs just yet.  A certain amount of worldly realism is a healthy balance to a life lived in good faith.  Theodore Roosevelt, whose politics may have evolved from his love of the wild, put it this way:  Speak softly, but carry a big stick.

Unfortunately, South African farmer Marius Els thought he could beat Nature at her own game.  Although he had been repeatedly warned that hippos can be exceedingly aggressive toward humans, he chose to flaunt this advice rather than heed it.  He was known to have exclaimed: … I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa.  This was said in reference to his “pet” hippo, Humphrey, whom he described as “like a son to me, he’s just like a human.”

Even when Humphrey recently chased down “a 52-year-old man and his seven-year-old grandson” (both of whom wound up spending two hours up a tree until Els lured Humphrey away with an apple), Els went on
believing that Humphrey was merely a “gentle giant.”  Even after Humphrey terrorized local golfers and killed local calves, Els was convinced that voice commands alone would be enough to lull “loveable” Humphrey into submission.

As The Guardian recently reported, this wishful thinking wound up costing Els his life.  Despite their girth, hippos can run up to 30 miles an hour – and “are said to kill more people each year than lions, elephants,
leopards, buffalo and rhinos combined.”  The Zulus knew and respected this.  In fact, a Zulu warrior’s
wish was to be “as brave as a hippopotamus” (rather than merely “as brave as a lion”).

Back when hippopotamuses freely roamed the Nile, Egyptians were also well aware of their mighty
capabilities.  Since female hippos are especially vigilant about defending their young, “the hippopotamus-headed Tawaret was a goddess of protection in pregnancy and childbirth” in the Ancient Egyptian Religion.


Copyright November 17, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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