Rag doll

Woman, 39, ‘thrown like a rag doll’ by rabid hippo on South African children’s farm

A woman claimed she was “thrown like a rag doll” by a rabid hippo who also “tore her cousin’s belly” at a South African children’s farm.

Natasha Vrany, 39, of Alberton, alleged that she and her cousin Belinda Newman, 62, were attacked by a hippo while visiting Jessica’s Place in Hoedspruit, Limpopo on November 14.

The world-famous nature reserve, run by Tonie and Shirley Joubert, is home to two hippos – Jessica, 21, and Richie, nine, who Ms Vrany says attacked her and her cousin.

The two hippos were rescued by the couple when they were young and have since lived “like children” in the house, while visitors can feed Jessica and massage her back, according to the reserve’s website.

Ms Vrany told Independent Online (IOL) that she and her cousin were sitting on the Jouberts’ lawn when Richie came out of a nearby river and attacked them, claiming he had thrown her to the ground and had ” ripped “Mrs. Newman’s stomach into” pieces. “

But owner Mr Joubert claimed Richie did not attack the two women, claiming a wild hippo was responsible for the horrific ordeal. There are wild hippos living in the Blyde River nearby.

Natasha Vrany (pictured petting one of the hippos), 39, from Alberton, alleged that she and her cousin Belinda Newman, 62, were attacked by hippo Richie while visiting Jessica’s Place in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, November 14

Ms Vrany claimed that she and her cousin were sitting on the Jouberts' lawn when Richie came out of a nearby river and attacked them.  Pictured: Natasha's leg injury

Ms Vrany claimed that she and her cousin were sitting on the Jouberts’ lawn when Richie came out of a nearby river and attacked them. Pictured: Natasha’s leg injury

Mr Joubert also claimed the incident did not occur at his premises and said he put his life in danger trying to protect the two women from the wild animal.

Ms Vrany said she has had two operations since the attack, while her cousin Ms Newman, who has known the Joubert couple for more than 20 years, has also been operated on.

Ms Vrany left Jessica’s Place with a one-star TripAdvisor review following the incident, where she detailed what happened during the alleged attack and urged others not to visit. the nature reserve.

Speaking to the IOL about the attack, Ms Vrany claimed Richie charged out of the river and pushed her to the ground, claiming she tried to put her fingernails in her left eye to stop the attack.

She said: “As I got up, Richie pushed me to the floor and started biting both my legs and throwing me like a rag doll. He had both legs in his mouth, biting harder every second.

Ms Vrany alleged that Richie carried her towards the river as she cried for help, while Mr Joubert, who did not have a weapon at the time, slapped the animal.

She claimed her cousin jumped on the hippo’s back in an attempt to force him to release her, but added that the animal turned on Ms Newman after letting her go.

Hippo, Jessica, who weighs over 1500kg, lives freely in the nature reserve and is allowed into the couple's kitchen as she lives as their

Hippo, Jessica, who weighs over 1500kg, lives freely in the nature reserve and is allowed into the couple’s kitchen as she lives as their “daughter”

Since saving her, Jessica has gained worldwide fame, appearing on BBC News, the South African film Mr. Bones, and an Animal Planet documentary named after her.

Since saving her, Jessica has gained worldwide fame, appearing on BBC News, the South African film Mr. Bones, and an Animal Planet documentary named after her.

She added, “He then turned on Belinda, pushing her to the ground and started ripping her stomach.”

Although she was injured, she claimed to have run to the house to ask Ms Joubert to bring a rifle outside, but said she passed out when she arrived in the house. food.

Ms Vrany claimed that when she woke up, Ms Newman was standing over her “holding her intestines in her hand to try and get them to stay inside.”

As they waited for an ambulance, she claimed Mr Joubert brought Jessica, the world famous hippo who also lives in the nature reserve, to “put her to bed” on the veranda.

Ms Vrany claimed she believed she was going to die after the attack and said she and her cousin were rushed to nearby after the incident, where they underwent surgery.

She added, “It was the most traumatic experience of my entire life, and I still have nightmares.”

World-famous Jessica's Place nature reserve, run by Tonie and Shirley Joubert, is home to two hippos - Jessica, 21, and Richie, nine, in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, South Africa (pictured)

World-famous Jessica’s Place nature reserve, run by Tonie and Shirley Joubert, is home to two hippos – Jessica, 21, and Richie, nine, in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, South Africa (pictured)

But Mr Joubert instead claimed the incident took place outside his premises and said he hit the animal with a heavy stone after seeing it grab Ms Vrany.

He said: “I managed to hit him over the top of the eye where there are soft bones, and he dropped it, I saved his life while putting mine in danger. . “

Mr Joubert said the wild animal disappeared in the water after the attack, as he claimed to have run to the house for help.

He claimed Jessica was already sleeping on the lanai when he arrived home, while Richie was also home. He insisted his animals were not involved in the incident.

He added that there are a lot of wild hippos that live in the same area and further along the Blyde River.

MailOnline has contacted Jessica’s Place and Ms Vrany for further comment.

Ms Vrany wrote about her trip advisor experience a week ago, giving the nature reserve one star.

She wrote: Me and my cousin were brutally attacked by Richie the hippo on November 14th at Jessicas’ house. We were rushed to Zaneen hospital where several operations and infections took hold.

“No comments and lies from Shirley Joubert and Tony Joubert – the owners of Jessica’s Place. I urge anyone not to put you or your family in danger. These hippos are not tame and can attack at any time. I’m disgusted that they are denying everything and I want you all to know what to expect when visiting Jessica’s house.

Mr and Mrs Joubert rescued the now famous Jessica as a baby in March 2000 after devastating flooding left her orphaned and alone on the banks of the River Blyde.

Park warden Mr. Joubert brought Jessica home with his wife, where they hand-raised her and the animal has been living ever since.

Jessica, who weighs over 1,500 kg, lives freely in the nature reserve and is allowed into the couple’s kitchen, as she lives like their “daughter”.

In 2012, after a strong storm and flash flood, Richie, who was only a few hours old at the time, was found by Mr Joubert and after they could not find his mother he brought back the little hippopotamus in the nature reserve. join Jessica.

Since saving her, Jessica has gained worldwide fame, appearing on BBC News, the South African film Mr. Bones, and an Animal Planet documentary named after her.

She also made an appearance in the first season of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! Australia in 2015, helping Chrissie Swan and Maureen McCormick win a box of chocolate.