Odessa woman attacked by hippo during Zimbabwe trip

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An Odessa woman was attacked by a hippopotamus during a trip to Zimbabwe last month - and lived to tell about it.

It happened on Dec. 1, Kristen Yaldor's birthday. She and her husband were visiting Africa; they were part of a canoeing tour on the Zambezi River.

Just ten minutes in, the fun ended.

“One came up under our canoe, which launched me forward, towards the deep side of the water and my husband fell to the shallow side,” she recalled. “I took two strokes towards the riverbank and that’s when it grabbed my leg and took me straight down."

Hippos kill hundreds of people every year in Africa.

“It was underwater about 45 seconds, being thrashed around, side to side, and during that time I tried to stay as calm as possible, trying to have air consumption, knowing that I could potentially be out of air and drown before I would even come up,” she described. 

Yaldor said she tried to grab the hippo's mouth and pry it off her leg.

“I don’t know if that spooked it or caused it to let me go. I was able to come back to the surface,” she said.

Despite being severely hurt she made it back to shore, barely.

“The only time death crossed my mind was trying to swim to shore knowing if it grabbed me again, I don’t think I could survive going underneath again,” Yaldor said.

She suffered a broken femur among several other serious injuries. 

She blames the tour-guides for not being more upfront about the risks involved.

“We were under the assumption that the hippos stay in the group. If we follow the tour group and do what we're told, we'd be safe,” she said.

Yaldor is expected to make a full recovery, but it could take another six months until she can walk without crutches.