Man Swallowed by Hippo Lives to Tell Tale

Incredible story of survival in Zambia
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2013 5:24 PM CDT
Man Swallowed By Hippo Lives to Tell Tale
Happy, a 28-year-old Nile hippopotamus at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington.   (AP Photo/Smithsonian Institution)

"Time passes very slowly when you're in a hippo's mouth," says Paul Templer. He knows firsthand. Templer was attacked by a hippo years ago while paddling on a river in Zambia, where he worked as a tourist guide. "I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulfurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest," he tells the Guardian. "It was only then that I realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth."

The hippo chomped into Templer with its huge teeth, leaving 40 puncture wounds. "The bull simply went berserk," he says. "Throwing me into the air and catching me again, shaking me like a dog with a doll." He dragged him down to the bottom of the river where Templer, badly wounded and bleeding, believed he would die, but the hippo mercifully spat him out, and another guide was able to grab him and paddle to safety. "Two years later I led an expedition down the Zambezi and as we drifted past the stretch where the attack had taken place, a huge hippo lurched out of the water next to my canoe," says Templer. "I'd bet my life savings it was the same hippo, determined to have the final word." Click to read the entire incredible story here. (More hippopotamus stories.)

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