A man who was swallowed by a hippo and lived to tell about it has now captivated the internet with his amazing his tale of panic and survival deep in the African wilderness.
Paul Templar was 27 years old when he was leading a group of clients and three apprentice guides on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, leading the group in kayaks near Victoria Falls. The experienced guide had seen hippos before, but on this trip 17 years ago he ran into one that had given him trouble in the past.
“The solid whack I felt behind me took me by surprise,” Templer of the the hippo attack in The Guardian newspaper in an essay that has gone viral on the internet. “I turned just in time to see [apprentice] Evans, who had been flung out of his boat, flying through the air. His boat, with his two clients still in it, had been lifted half out of the water on the back of the huge bull hippo.”
Templer told another apprentice to guide the others to a cluster of rocks while he tried to save Evans. But Templer never made it to Evans, being swallowed by the hippo instead.
“I was engulfed in darkness,” Templer wrote. “It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.”
Realizing he had been swallowed by the hippo, Templer waited and escaped when the giant animal opened its mouth to take a breath. The animal submerged again with Templer in its mouth, but broke the water and spat him out, leaving 40 puncture wounds.
“I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around — my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.”
An apprentice guide pulled Templer to safety once he had been freed from the animal’s jaws.
After being swallowed by the hippo, Templer lost his left arm and nearly had two other limbs amputated. But he returned to being a guide, and even encountered the same hippo again on a trip down the Zambezi.