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Man who was swallowed by hippo and ripped apart shares how he survived horror incident

Man who was swallowed by hippo and ripped apart shares how he survived horror incident

Paul Templer thought he was a goner

A man who survived being swallowed by a hippo has opened up about the ordeal, in which he ended up losing an arm.

Paul Templer ended up face-to-face with an angry hippo and survived, despite being swallowed three times.

He was working in Zimbabwe as a tourist guide, where he had been out on the water hundreds of times with travellers hoping to catch a glimpse of the area's wildlife.

However, while out in a canoe near Victoria Falls one day, things went went badly wrong.

Speaking to LADbible, Paul 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.

Paul Templer thought he was going to die.
Paul Templer

"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."

While all of this was still sinking in, things would quickly go from bad to worse for Paul.

"I was paddling over to my colleague," he added. "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 realise 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 then twigged exactly where he was - inside a hippo - but rather than panic, he said he was 'weirdly' relieved.

"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.'" he explained.

"The hippo began to shake me around, while I struggling to get away.

The powerful creature swallowed Paul.

"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 desperately attempted to get back to land, the hippo came back and tried again, this time swallowing Paul feet first.

"I'd been swallowed up again," Paul said. "And this time, it really started thrashing me around - the best way I can think of to describe it is like a dog tossing around a rag doll.

"I tried to reach for my gun but it was throwing me around so much I wasn't able to reach it."

At the same time, Paul was also desperately trying not to drown as the animal plunged him into the water - but miraculously, it spat him out again.

At this point, the hippo appeared to be determined. Paul remembers it 'charged' at him with its mouth open and then grabbed him by the torso.

"It all seemed like slow motion," Paul recalled. "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."

But his ordeal was far from over, and Paul's body was absolutely mangled from the attack, while his colleague sadly lost his life.

Paul now works as a motivational speaker and inspires others with his experiences.
Paul Templer

Paul's left arm was completely crushed, and blood poured from the various wounds up and down his body - one so deep his colleague told him his lung was visible. In total, he sustained 38 bite wounds.

His quick-thinking pal used some clingfilm from a tray of food that happened to be nearby, which Paul says helped stop his lung from collapsing.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where surgeons initially feared he would lose both arms and one of his legs, however, they were able to save his right arm and his injured leg.

His recovery was slow and painful, both physically and mentally, as Paul said he felt guilt over his fellow guide dying as well as struggling to come to terms with the loss of his arm.

But Paul refused to be held back by his injuries and as he slowly moved on from the horrendous experience, he realised he wanted to help others.

He now works as a motivational speaker, using his past to inspire and encourage people.

Paul has also written a book about his life, entitled What's Left of Me.

Featured Image Credit: ANDREY GUDKOV / Alamy

Topics: Animals