Paul Templer said, “There was a terrible, sulfurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest.”
Paul Templer was 27 years old when he almost lost his life in a hippo attack. He said, “There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger.” In fact, Templer had no real idea what had even happened. “I seemed to be trapped in something slimy,” he said, “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.”
As Templer told the Guardian, the hippo who attacked him was “no stranger.” He said:
I … owned a business taking clients down the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls. I’d been working this stretch of river for years, and the grouchy old two-ton bull had carried out the occasional half-hearted attack. I’d learned to avoid him. Hippos are territorial and I knew where he was most likely to be at any given time.
But on this day, the attack from the “grouchy old bull” was more than half-hearted, and Templer almost didn’t survive the confrontation. The hippo, “chomped into Templer with its huge teeth, leaving 40 puncture wounds.” Thankfully, the bull suddenly spit Templer out and another guide was able to grab him and get him to safety. Templer lost his left arm due to the attack, but miraculously lived to tell the tale.
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Photo: AP File/Smithsonian Institution