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Man Was Swallowed by Hippopotamus, Lives

Update Date: May 09, 2013 02:54 PM EDT

Paul Templer is now a successful motivational speaker and runs a foundation that supports children with disabilities and terminal illnesses in Michigan and in southern Africa. At 27, though, Templer lived almost an entirely different life. He owned a business where he would take clients down the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls.

The business was lucrative and, by his own admission, he would probably still be doing it if not for one encounter. As he explained to the Guardian, he had taken out some clients with a trio of apprentice guides. Suddenly, he saw one of his apprentice guides fling out of his boat. Templer instructed his apprentice guides to get everyone to the rocks on the shore, while he steered himself toward the apprentice guide, Evans.

It was then that he was swallowed by the hippopotamus. "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," Templer recounts. "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 lucky. The hippo eventually spit him out. One of his apprentices was able to seal his wounds with a wrapper from a snack tray, and a nearby medical team was able to keep him alive until he saw a surgeon. Templer was also lucky that the hippo missed his vital organs, though he did lose his hand in the encounter. Evans was not as fortunate.

The Huffington Post reports that, while the hippo is perceived as harmless on this side of the world, it is actually the most dangerous animal in Africa, killing nearly 3,000 people a year.

Templer discusses his experience in a video seen below.

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