A Hippopotamus accidentally ate a circus dwarf named Od.
Hippo Eats Dwarf
A hippopotamus has swallowed a dwarf in a circus accident in northern Thailand. "A dwarf, nicknamed Od, died when he bounced sideways from a trampoline and was swallowed by a yawning hippopotamus, which was waiting to appear in the next act," the Pattaya Mail reported. "Vets on the scene said Hilda the Hippo had a gag reflex which automatically caused her to swallow." The vets said it was the first time the hefty vegetarian had ever eaten a circus performer. "Unfortunately, the 1000 plus spectators continued to applaud wildly until common sense dictated there had been a tragic mistake. Police said the trampoline has been sent for forensic analysis.
Hoax or Fact:
This is an interesting story that's presented as a tragedy. Purported to have happened in northern Thailand, the message states that a circus Dwarf, nicknamed Od, died in a bizarre way when he bounced sideways from a trampoline straight into the jaws of a yawning Hippo waiting nearby and was swallowed by it. As a proof of the 'tragic incident,' it is said that Pattaya Mail reported the story. Can this be a fact, let us analyze.
It is a fact that Thailand's Pattaya Mail did report the 'Hippo Eats Dwarf' incident in Grapevine column:
A circus dwarf, nicknamed Od, died recently in the North when he bounced sideways from a trampoline and was swallowed by a yawning hippopotamus which was waiting to appear in the next act. Vets on the scene said Hilda the Hippo had a gag reflex which automatically caused her to swallow. They added in mitigation that the hefty creature was a vegetarian who had not previously digested a circus performer. Unfortunately, the 1000 plus spectators continued to applaud wildly until common sense dictated there had been a tragic mistake. Police said the trampoline has been sent for forensic analysis.
The story of Hippo swallowing a Dwarf accidentally became widely popular because it was also reported in the Manchester Evening News and the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Various versions of this story have been circulating online since at least ten years. In an earliest available version in late 1994, the story was posted to Usenet group as National Lampoon's True Facts -- attributing the source as the Las Vegas Sun newspaper:
From the Las Vegas *Sun*: "An Austrian circus dwarf died recently when he bounced sideways from a trampoline and was swallowed by a hippopotamus. Seven thousand people watched as little Franz Dasch popped into the mouth of Hilda the Hippo and the animal's gag reflex forced it to swallow. The crowd applauded wildly before other circus people realized what has happened."
In his book 'Hippo Eats Dwarf,' the author Alex Boese mentions that when he contacted the Sun about the mention of this story, they could not find any record of it in their archives. Also note that in the 1994 version of the story, the dwarf is Austrian and his name is Franz Dasch. Neither there is any mention that the incident happened in Thailand. More importantly, National Lampoon was a ground-breaking American humor magazine which ran from 1970 to 1998.
Considering all the aforementioned flaws and facts, it is certain that the story 'Hippo Eats Dwarf' is a longstanding hoax and urban legend which gained so much popularity that it even became a brand name for some people & businesses. We suspect it was a joke invented several years ago.