Paul Templer tells his death-defying tale of being swallowed by a hippo in this somewhat hilarious retelling.
Paul Templer had a better reason than you ever have to quit his job: he was swallowed by a hippopotamus. Templer, 27 at the time, gave tours of the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. Hippos often lurked near where he brought his tours, and despite the fact that hippos kill more humans than any other wild animal, Templer was not concerned. Hippos are very territorial, but they are vegetarians, so as long as Templer kept his distance, he would be fine.
Things started to go wrong when one of Templer's apprentice, commanding his own kayak with two tourists, got caught upstream a little bit. Templer began to back up in his kayak to give his apprentice a hand.
Then, without warning, Templer was "engulfed in darkness."
"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 managed to pull himself out, and made a desperate escape attempt. The hippo wasn't having it. The beast bit down on Templer's leg and pulled him under water.
Templer said he had no idea how long he was under for. "Time passes slow when you're in a hippo's mouth."
His apprentice did not survive the hippo attack, and neither did Templer's arm. Templer describes a choice at one point to "call it a day" (a.k.a., die) or to fight on and live through a lot of pain. He chose to live, and now, seventeen years later, he is telling his story as part of the London Guardian's "Experience" series. It's unlikely anyone else's experience is going to top this.