Man Swallowed by Hippo, Lives to Write About It

"Time passes very slowly when you're in a hippo's mouth"

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In a story that sounds like it came straight from the Bible — or Pinocchio — Paul Templer claims he was swallowed by a hippo while leading a kayak tour down the Zambezi River. The hippo attack happened 17 years ago, but this week Templer recounted the horrifying tale to the Guardian.

Templer was a 27-year-old river guide who had led tours down the Zambezi in Zimbabwe many times and had weathered several of what he considered “half-hearted attacks” by a certain territorial male hippo. Those half-hearted attacks gave Templer no clue as to the potential viciousness of the bull, who attacked one day, apparently out of the blue. The vicious assault killed an apprentice guide before turning on Templer who had approached to try and help his co-worker.

(MORE: Humphrey the Pet Hippo Mauls His Owner to Death)

“There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf,” Templer recalled in the Guardian. Templer did not immediately understand what happened to him, though. He said:

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.

Templer was able to wriggle free, but the hippo attacked again, dragging him back underwater. Templer doesn’t know how long he was under (“Time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth”) before the hippo spit him out and Templer was able to make his way to the surface where a co-worker awaited.

Templer suffered close to 40 puncture wounds in the attack. Some of the bite marks were so deep his lung was exposed. His arm was crushed and was eventually amputated. After he recovered from his injuries, Templer bravely returned to his job as a guide.

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27 comments
SurfinAround
SurfinAround

The game "Hungry, Hungry Hippos" came to mind, immediately!

Skip2102
Skip2102

He´s not a fool, no sir, he loves his job and has shown his dedication to it. Yes, most people would´ve  given it up. Go on Templer, I´m sure it won´t happen again, I hope. More power to you!

JohnnLadd
JohnnLadd

"There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs"

Severe halitosis I presume! Terrible dental hygiene! I wouldn't want to be the one to tell the hippo though! They don't seem to like criticism!

PuritaFleschhut1
PuritaFleschhut1

Lucky guy. He could have been long in Kingdom Come this time.

RickHassley
RickHassley

And.........He returns to being a guide   Crazy fool!

JerryLuessow
JerryLuessow

he did get eaten by the hippo he just ran around until he pooped out

funkydonny
funkydonny

too bad he could'nt swallow glen beck..but he'd only puke him up

68GT500BILL
68GT500BILL

17 years ago - boy you people are desparate for anything news shocking duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

DavidKatava
DavidKatava

I understand that they tried to interview the hippo afterwards but he had a lump in his throat.

csjulian2172
csjulian2172

Swallowed???? If he was only up to his waist in the hippo's mouth, he was hardly swallowed. Bitten, yes. Held in the mouth, yes. NOT swallowed. Of course assuming any part of the story is true.

seeking_charlie
seeking_charlie

And I thought the story of Wendle the Hippopotamus was an exaggeration. Holy cow!  : /

Peace_2_All
Peace_2_All

Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? ;-0

Peace...

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

Operative word "claims". Whole thing could be made up and probably is. We saw a few years ago how writers who purport to write nonfiction sometimes make stuff up out of whole cloth. James Frey and others.

Nonetheless, though, I had a fascinating experience once a few years ago where I was swallowed by a shark and hung out in his belly for a week or so before stabbing him and making a break for it. It taught me to appreciate life on a new level.

Amina
Amina

@RickHassley If a girl like Bethany Hamilton who lost her left arm to a shark while surfing can go back to the water- she's now a professional surfer- then that man can go back to his work. I wish him best of luck and emotional healing

Hansmwa
Hansmwa

@csjulian2172 I agree with you man. I come from the same region (Zambia) which is a neighbour to Zimbabwe and I have NEVER come across a hippo with a mouth big enough to swallow an adult. Call it what it was, a biting. On the other hand, this is the only way such a story would sell in the west; tell us you were swallowed or get lost.

Christopherthe1st
Christopherthe1st

@ChikuMisra  i remember that! it was a tuesday, man we were looking for you all over the place, hippos belly, whales belly, even a belugas belly we never wouldve guessed you were in a sharks

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

The man had terrible injuries, truly tragic, that is beyond question. To lose an arm would be life changing and awful beyond belief. It is still not proof of being swallowed by a hippo.

To be swallowed by a hippo, and I think most people seeing the headline figure that means to actually be in the belly of a hippo.....to survive that would be incredible beyond words. Thing is, I would need to see a clearly authentic video proving this in order to believe it.

People can say anything. I could say Ronald reagan visited my town for a luncheon once and punched me in the face really hard. I was so traumatized at being assaulted by the leader of the free world that I was unable to achieve anything in life because of that. So I am gonna need the reagan foundation to give me a million bucks as compensation.

I am pretty sure they won't do it. But if there was a video of my allegation, whole ball game would be different. People can say anything. Proof is what separates fact from fiction. The man may have been swallowed by a hippo. But I am not going to just accept his word at face value. He may just be trying to sell a book. People have done crazier things for money.