After his life-changing encounter with the deadly beast in his native Zimbabwe in 1996 – which he claims “stank of rotten eggs” – Paul Templer was left with 39 “serious” bite wounds “..
The wildlife specialist, who was conducting a six-person safari down the Zambezi river, characterized the horrific encounter as “a horrible day at the office.” “..
“I could use the cliche that ‘it started like any other day,’ but it didn’t. “It all started with a feeling of dread,” Paul told 7 News.
“Malaria had struck a friend of mine who was meant to be conducting a canoe excursion. You know how you get that nagging sensation that things isn’t quite right? That’s how I felt.
“But the opportunity to take that safari was fantastic, it was on one of the most beautiful stretches of river, maybe in the world.”
After nearing a stretch near Victoria Falls, trouble became apparent when the animal knocked one of his pals out of his canoe.
Paul told The Sun in 2018: “As I paddled towards him, the hippo was coming towards me under the water and the ripples on top looked like a submarine torpedo cutting through the water.
“So I turned towards him and tried to grab him, and it was like something out of a movie because our fingers almost touched and then everything just went dark.
“It happened so quick, I had no idea what the hell was going on.
“From my waist up I wasn’t dry but I wasn’t wet either like my legs were.
“I couldn’t move – I was like wedged in this tight place. I knew it was in a hippo or a croc, either way it wasn’t good.
“I managed to move my fingers around and was able to feel the bristles on the hippo’s snout.
At this point, Paul realised that he was stuck in the beast’s throat – with no imminent means of escape.
“It was slimy, slippery, wet. It smelt like a rotten egg.
“I’m so far down his throat, and I’m not a small guy,” he said.
“So I managed to grab a hold of the tusks and push myself out, and burst to the surface.
‘BLOOD MINGLING IN THE WATER’
When the hippo eventually spat Paul out, he quickly swallowed the safari guide again – but this time from the feet first.
Paul was trashed around in the water trying not to drown before the hippo spat him out for a second time.
But as he swam towards his friends, he saw the “monster hippo” charging towards him with its jaws wide open, before it dragged him to the bottom of the river.
He said: “I remember just lying at the bottom of the river, looking up and I’m waist-deep inside the hippo’s mouth.”
“I can see green and blue and the sunlight on the water surface. And when I look around, I can see my blood mingling the water.”
Paul was eventually rescued by one of his friends, who he said showed “incredible bravery” to paddle over and grab him.
Tragically, his friend who was knocked from his canoe by the beast drowned.
It took Paul eight agonising hours to get to a hospital without any painkillers.
Wounded, but still alive, he made it to Victoria Falls Hospital where he had his left arm amputated by doctors.
And despite the incident, Paul has used the attack to inspire others as a motivational speaker living in the United States.
Since the attack, he has also survived cancer and is the proud father to three children.
The hippopotamus kills more humans every year than any other animal in the continent of Africa.
The Sun detailed some of the most gruesome attacks as experts labelled it nature’s “deadliest animal”.
This article by Jacob Bently-York was first published by The Sun on 14 March 2022. Lead Image:
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