Paul Templer was guiding some tourists down a river on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe when he was swallowed by a hippo. Templer had been paddling upstream to help a duo whose kayak had beached on a hippopotamus's back when things went dark. As he reached his hand out to help those in danger, he was totally engulfed by the hungry bull. Now, 17 years later, he's told his horrifying tale to the Guardian for their "Experience" series.
And "horrifying" doesn't even begin to cover it. Templer says:
There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf ... 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.
Oh. My. Gah.
Templer eventually freed himself, only to be caught during his escape by the leg and dragged underwater for an indeterminable amount of time. Then, when the hippo surfaced, it spat him out and one of his fellow guides helped him onto a rock.
Templer suffered over 40 puncture wounds and his arm and legs were so cut up, it was possible to see bone. His arm was eventually amputated.
There can't be many people who've been swallowed by a two-ton animal and have lived to tell; Templer's description of being inside the hippo's mouth is as Hollywood as they come, even though it's 100 percent real.
His story is amazing and it's wonderful he shared it. I do, however, feel sorry for the person who has to follow this I-was-swallowed-by-a-hippo act in the "Experience" series. Something tells me nothing will come close to topping this.
Watch him describe his "bad day at the office":
Can you believe this?
Photo via wwarby/Flickr