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Chinese family seeks compensation for death of daughter killed by hippo

A Chinese family is seeking compensation for the death of their daughter, whom a hippopotamus killed at Lake Naivasha as she holidayed four years ago.

Lake Naivasha Country Club has, however, denied responsibility. The hotel said the daughter had strayed and was taking pictures of a mother hippopotamus who was grazing with her calf, thereby provoking it and prompting the late-night attack.

On Thursday, Luo Jiyao said that Luo Yi was an only child and her death in April 2013 robbed him and his wife their breadwinner.

He recalled that in April 2013 she had informed them that she was to leave China on April 20, 2013 for holiday in Kenya with five friends.

However, on April 22, they received information from the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi that their daughter had been fatally attacked by a hippo while visiting the said hotel.

The family then travelled to Kenya.

“In accordance with Chinese tradition, it was imperative that we invite some relatives to accompany us to Kenya for the deceased final ritual,” Mr Luo said.

The hotel has however maintained that Ms Luo and her colleagues had had their dinner and been escorted to their rooms, which face the open lawn area and the lakeside.

The visitors then spotted the hippos grazing around the lawn area and excitedly “rushed out of their rooms armed with cameras to take photos of the calf hippo”, the hotel said.

Ms Luo moved too close to the calf hippo and suddenly an adult female hippo, presumably the calf’s mother, charged at and attacked her “ostensibly to protect her calf, and thereby inflicted fatal injuries to the deceased”.

The Kenya Wildlife Service has, however, through lawyer Patrick Lutta, maintained that the fatal attack was occasioned by the joint negligence of the deceased and the hotel.

The wildlife agency blames Ms Luo for wandering into an area she ought not, taking photos of the hippopotamus thereby provoking it, and attempting to play with the hippo thereby being attacked.

The agency also blames the hotel for failing to erect an electric fence to prevent wild animals from accessing its premises, encroaching on a riparian land where hippopotamus graze.

The hearing resumes on June 15.

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