Rochester Hills woman killed by hippo during African Safari trip

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

A 75-year-old woman from Rochester Hills was on an African safari trip with her family when she was attacked and killed by a hippopotamus, according to Fox 2 Detroit

Carol Sue Kirken, right, died on Saturday after a hippopotamus attacked her on a Tanzanian safari.


Carol Sue Kirken, a local entrepreneur, grandmother and willing volunteer, died on Aug. 5 while on a family vacation in Tanzania. 

Kirken died quickly in the arms of her son Robert, according to an obituary written by her family.

"We are shocked and saddened at her early departure from our lives," the family wrote. "Without her, there will always be a sadness. But the joy she created is so much the stronger for her family and friends."

Kirken worked as a skin care nurse at Crittenton Hospital and then moved on to work with a plastic surgeon. She later developed a successful entrepreneurial business in 1991 with Arbonne International, a skin care line, where she served as a National Vice President and a private consultant. 

Her obituary says she was passionate about helping the less fortunate and was a founding member of the Rochester area Women's Fund. She also served as board director of the North Oakland YMCA. 

Kirken leaves behind her three children, Robert, David and Kris, and her five grandchildren. 

One of Kirken's grandchildren, Eric Strickler posted on Facebook saying she was an amazing woman and "the greatest grandmother anyone could ask for." 

"We shared a lot of memories together; numerous Christmas's together, the best thanksgiving dinner anyone could make (especially your pies), skiing down the mountains of Tahoe, our trip to Italy, graduations, the list goes on. I think I can speak for your family and your friends that you will be missed dearly," he wrote. 

The family has not been able to confirm the cause of the attack, but a funeral for Kirken will be held from 2-4 p.m. on Aug. 20 at Potere-Modetz Funeral Home in Rochester. 

"Due to the suddenness of her passing details of her funeral arrangements have not been finalized at this time," her daughter, Kris Strickler posted on Facebook

National Geographic ranked the hippo the most dangerous mammal in Africa because of its unpredictable nature.

"Hippopotamus is Greek for 'river horse.' Their teeth are so huge that they need large cavities in their heads to accommodate them," according to National Geographic.