A man who narrowly survived being swallowed by a hippopotamus has opened up about the death-defying ordeal, in which he forfeited an arm.
Paul Templer wound up face-to-face with a peeved hippo and survived, in spite of being swallowed three times. He was in Zimbabwe working as a tourist guide, where with travelers he had ventured out on the water hundreds of times hoping to snag a glimpse of the region’s wildlife. However, one day whilst out in a canoe near Victoria Falls, things went went terribly wrong.
Speaking to reporters, Templer said: “I was out with three fellow guides and some tourists when we came across a group of hippos in the water. They weren’t too close by – and while I felt a bit of apprehension, I believed we were on a safe route. However, suddenly I heard a huge splash and a crashing sound and I saw that a hippo had hit one of the other canoes. The boat flipped out of the water and into the hippo’s back – in doing so, my colleague was thrown into the water.
“There were some rocks nearby and I shouted to my nearest colleague to take everyone back there to safety. Then I went off to try and find the other guide. I was paddling over to my colleague. When I saw the hippo coming towards me under water – it was like a submarine torpedo as it made its way towards my canoe. Suddenly, everything went dark and quiet and it took a few seconds for me to realize what had happened. From the waist up I felt like I wasn’t really wet, but I wasn’t really dry. I could feel a sort of pressure on my lower back and with one of my arms I could feel around, and I felt bristles.”
He added: “Immediately what went through my mind was, ‘At least I know I’m not in a crocodile,’ and then my next thought was, ‘I need to get out.’ The hippo began to shake me around, while I struggling to get away. Then, the hippo spat me out. As I made my way to the surface, I spotted the other guide, who I had been trying to save, and we swam away.” As they frantically tried to get back to land, the hippo returned and attempted again, this time swallowing Templer feet first.
Templer was too desperately fighting not to drown as the hippo plunged him into the water – but luckily, it spat him out once more. At this point, the animal seemed to be determined. Templer recalled it ‘charged at him with its mouth open’ and then snatched him by the torso. “It all seemed like slow motion,” he remembered. “I thought he was going to bite me in half and I saw my blood mixing with the water and I remember thinking, ‘Will I bleed to death or will I drown?’ I felt very detached – like nothing I did would have any effect.” Although Templer survived, with life-threatening injuries, sadly his colleague lost his life.
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