Caption

Hippo attacks Florida woman while she was canoeing with her husband in Africa

A Florida woman remains in intensive care after being viciously attacked by a hippopotamus while canoeing in Africa.

Kristen Yaldor and her husband Ryan, of Odessa, jetted off to South Africa and Zimbabwe to celebrate her 37th birthday, the Miami Herald reported.

After enjoying a number of safaris, and a drum and dinner show, the Yaldors ventured to Wild Horizons, where they embarked on a canoeing excursion down the Zambezi River.

As they drifted, a mother hippopotamus, who was with her young calf, emerged from the water and flipped their canoe over, the Herald reported.

While Ryan Yaldor was able to swim to safety, Kristen Yaldor was dragged under by the hippo. The animal then chomped down on her leg, breaking her femur.

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Kristen Yaldor later managed to escape, but didn’t receive medical attention for another few hours, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

When she was finally airlifted from the scene, another 13 hours passed before she arrived at a hospital in South Africa, according to the Times.

Despite her condition, Kristen Yaldor’s family says they feels lucky she’s alive.

“If one of those (incisor) teeth hit her femoral artery, we would probably be planning a funeral today,” Kristen Yaldor’s mother-in-law, Martine Yaldor, a South Africa native, told the Times. “By all accounts, she was incredibly lucky.”

Although Martine Yaldor admitted to the Times there are “always risks involved when you interact with wildlife,” she believes the tour operator has some questions to answer.

Martine Yaldor forwarded emails to the Tampa Bay Times, which included statements from Ryan Yaldor regarding the event, as well as the CEO of the tour company.

According to Martine Yaldor, her son’s account differs from Wild Horizons’ story, making it unclear as to whether or not Kristen Yaldor listened to directions to swim away from the hippo and why it took so long for her to receive medical attention.

In the email, Wild Horizons says it told the Yaldors to swim to the island while a guide distracted the animal. However, Ryan Yaldor says there was no time for his wife to flee because she was thrown right in front of the hippo and immediately taken underwater, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“Kristen was pulled under as soon as she hit the water,” he wrote, according to the Times. “She had no opportunity to swim to shore.”

Ryan Yaldor also said the tour guide’s radio wasn’t working, which may explain why it took so long to get Kristen Yaldor to a hospital.

“This is a very unfortunate incident that can happen in the wild with animals when we’re on their territory,” MartineYaldor told the Times. “But the people that provided this opportunity weren’t properly prepared… they need to have the courage of convictions to say, ‘Sorry, it’s not safe today.’ ”

Wild Horizons did not immediately respond to People’s request for further comment.

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