Paul Templer, River Guide, Gets Swallowed by Hippo and Lives to Tell About it

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A man who worked as a river guide was eaten by a hippopotamus and lived to tell about it.

Paul Templer, a 27-year-old river guide, was giving tours on the Zambezi river by Victoria Falls along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

The ordeal started when Templer went out into the river to help one of his apprentices. His apprentice was on a small kayak that was stuck on the back of a large, two-ton hippo. 

All Templer remembers is going out to the kayak, and then suddenly being "engulfed in darkness."

He said, "There was no transition at all. No sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf."

It turns out, the large hippo had attempted to eat him, chomping down on his left arm and chest. A doctor later found more than 40 puncture wounds around that area. 

Meanwhile, Templer fought for his life.

"I managed to free one hand and felt around - my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo's snout," he said. "It was only then that I realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth."

As he moved his arm around, which had by now lost much of its flesh, the hippo began to open its mouth and Templer made an escape. 

But the scape was short-lived. Right when he started swimming towards the apprentice, the hippo chomped down on his leg and drug him under 10 feet of water.

"I've no idea how long we stayed under," he said. "Time passes very slowly when you're in a hippo's mouth."

While he was overwhelmed with pain, he also became overwhelmed with emotion, realizing he was facing death.

"I knew that it was my moment of choice," he said. "I could shut my eyes, I could drift off, I could call it a day, or I could fight my way through this and I could stick around…the pain was so intense I thought for sure I was going to die. And then when I didn't, there were moments that I wished that I would, just to escape that excruciating agony."

After awhile, the hippo came up for air and spit out Templer. 

He was taken to the hospital and had hours of surgery, but survived, and lives to tell the tale today.

He now works as a motivational speaker, author and founder of a charitable foundation that supports disabled and terminally ill children.

Sources: Fox 31, TIME