The Darwin Awards

2001 At-Risk Survivors

Next Prev Random At-Risk Survivors have misadventures that stop short of the ultimate sacrifice. Nevertheless we salute the spirit of their colossal blunders with an Honorable Mention. Better luck next time!

Hippo Hop
2001 At-Risk Survivor
Confirmed True by Darwin

Hippos play an important role in the African ecosystem. Their dung feeds tiny water microorganisms, which in turn support a food chain of larger creatures. On land, their large bodies and grazing habits make trails that provide other animals with easy access to water holes. [Seaworld]

African legend says the hippo was created to cut grass for the other animals. The hippo asked if she could stay in the water during the hot days, but God feared that she would eat all the fish. The hippopotamus promised not to, so God agreed. To this day she keeps her promise, dwelling in the water during the day and emerging to eat grass in the cool night air. 31 July 2001, Ukraine | Before I retire this category forever, here's one last free spirit who learned a painful lesson while frolicking with large zoo animals.

A Ukrainian woman hopped the fence at Kharkiv Zoo to swim with Masha the hippopotamus. The woman's playtime was cut short when the three-ton herbivore abruptly changed its dietary habit and mauled the intruder, in defense of its offspring. The sinking swimmer was rescued from the irate mammal by irate zoo workers, who sent her to the hospital where she was listed in serious but stable condition.

Zoo officials said the woman's action was far from unusual: visitors commonly ignore warning signs and fences to cavort with the animals. Because this happens so often -- with polar bears, tigers, whales, and now a hippopotamus -- I am hereby adding it to the list of mental lapses which, while dangerous, occur too regularly to be amusing. Past winners include:
Polar Bear Lesson
Playing With Cats
Killer Whale Rodeo

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Submitted by: Keith, Igor Malesev,
Matthew Comprix

Reference: Reuters, news.excite.com

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