Man Who Was Swallowed By Hippo Lives To Tell The Tale

Just in case you were still not convinced that hippos deserve a place on our list of animals that are total assholes, does Paul Templer have a story for you. Templer was working as a tour guide on Africa’s Zambezi River when his group of kayaks came across a two-ton bull hippo who wasn’t exactly thrilled to see them. The hippo overturned one of the canoes and as Templer paddled over to help his comrades, the hippo lunged and swallowed him:

“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 realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.”

Templer was able to escape when the hippo briefly opened its mouth, but the hippo’s second attack was even more horrific. Templer was sliced open by the hippo’s tusks and incisors and thrown into the air like a ragdoll. The hippo pulled him underwater again for what Templer believed were his last moments, although he can’t be sure how long it was, because “time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.” We’ll take your word for it, Paul.

Miraculously, the hippo eventually spit Templer out and one of his coworkers was able to pull him to safety. He lost his left arm in the encounter, but gained one hell of a story, and would you believe that he’s still leading tours on that same river? You can read his essay about the crazy experience over at The Guardian.