Julianne Hough had a terrifying 'brush with death' on her honeymoon

Elise Solé
Photo: Julianne Hough via Instagram

Don’t let those scenic honeymoon photos fool you — Julianne Hough is opening up about a terrifying encounter with an angry elephant on her African adventures.

After their July 8 wedding in Iowa, the Dancing With the Stars judge and her husband, Brooks Laich, a Canadian ice hockey player, jetted off to Frégate Island in the Seychelles and then to Kenya, where they got close to hippos, wildebeests, zebras, and elephants.

From the looks of Hough’s Instagram, the trip was idyllic, but her blog told a different story.


The couple stayed at the luxury resort Angama Mara (where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton), which provided the backdrop for the 1980s romantic film Out of Africa.

Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in Out of Africa, 1985. (Photo: MCA/Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

“As soon as Brooks and I learned the classic film ‘Out of Africa’ was filmed at the resort we were staying at, we wanted to see the movie,” wrote Hough in a blog post called “That Time We Had a Brush With Death on Our Honeymoon” on her website. “We waited for a rainy day and watched Out of Africa — in Africa. We were so moved by the true story based on Karen Blixen’s life in Kenya and the incredible things she did for the Maasai people.”

The couple decided to grab a bottle of champagne and re-create a famous scene in which Robert Redford and Meryl Streep picnic in a grassy field, which happened to be just a few steps from where Hough and Laich were staying.

“We were taking in every bit of the scenery when a low-pitched, gut-turning growl surrounded us,” Hough wrote. “We weren’t scared… we were terrified. Within seconds we were in survival mode. We knew not to run or make any sudden movements, and Brooks grabbed the only objects we could use as weapons if we needed to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, two of those things were butter knives. For a second we thought about breaking the champagne bottle to use, but decided we’d feel awful about shattering glass all over nature. We heard the growl again, and this time it was even more terrifying. I’d never seen Brooks this scared.”


Assuming the growl came from a cat (also not good news), they decided to walk quickly to a safe spot. Once they were there, a ranger yelled, “Elephant! Elephant!” However, when the newlyweds tried to explain the animal was a cat (indicated by its purr-like sounds), the ranger replied, “Elephant purr!”

“Brooks and I looked at each other in disbelief,” wrote Hough. “How could what the ranger is saying be true? After dramatically escaping death by beast we decided to bring our picnic inside. As soon as we were within reach of wifi we did some digging and, as it turns out, elephants do in fact purr! And it’s really cute.”

Clearly, the brush with death didn’t dampen Hough’s travel bug — she just returned from an Alaskan cruise with her high school girlfriends where, hopefully, she steered clear of brown bears and killer whales.


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