TANZANIA, AFRICA - A longtime Rochester community activist died last weekend when she was attacked by a hippopotamus while on a vacation safari in Tanzania.
Carol Kirken, 75, of Rochester Hills died quickly on Saturday in the arms of her son, Robert, according to a tribute her family posted on the Modetz Funeral Home website.
"She was on her annual holiday with family members for an African safari," the family wrote. "Having past 75 years old, she was resolutely shooting for 100. She would have surely achieved it if not for this accident."
The family was still making plans to have her body returned home and plans a farewell to her on Aug. 20 at the funeral home.
News of her death shocked the Rochester community, where she was well known for her charitable work with Crittenton Hospital Medical Center, the Rochester Women's Fund and the North Oakland YMCA.
"She was just a rocket of passion and enthusiasm," said Randy Secontine, who served with Kirken on an advisory board to the YMCA. "You just meet some people in life that invigorate others and Carol was one of those people. She inspires people with an enthusiasm that is exceptional. She never slowed down."
At Crittenton Hospital, Kirken served as a physicians services representative who helped instruct aging patients on how to improve the memory. She also taught classes about new products for Arbonne International, a California skin products company.
She was a founding member of the Women's Fund, a nonprofit group that helps women in need.
Kirken was a staple of the community who was always smiling, said Mayor Bryan Barnett. She not only volunteered a lot of her own time, but she convinced others to do the same, he said.
"When Carol asked you to do something, you did it because you always knew that her heart was in the right place," Barnett said.
Hippo attacks on humans are rare and solid statistics are difficult to find. A report by the Wilderness Medical Society in 1995 estimated that between 200 and 300 people are killed each year by hippos.
The attacks are typically deadly in part because they happen in remote areas where quick access to medical care is uncommon. Hippos are considered herbivores, eating as much as 80 pounds of grass a day but their large teeth are used to defend themselves against other animals, including hippos.
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Contact John Wisely: 248-858-2262 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jwisely
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