Paul Templer may have made the biggest understatement ever when he said “time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.”
The incident happened as Templer worked as a tourist guide on a river in Zambia.
He was attempting to help another guide who had been knocked into the river by the hippo when suddenly “I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulfurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest” he told theGuardian.
“It was only then that I realized I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth” he continued.
The attack didn’t stop there. “The bull simply went berserk,” he went on.
The hippo wasn’t done “Throwing me into the air and catching me again, shaking me like a dog with a doll.”
The animal then dragged him to the bottom of the river and Templer thought his life would end there.
As the Huff Post points out, fast sprinters and strong swimmers, Hippo’s can also hold their breath for several minutes, as Templer found out on that March day in 1996.
“I remember looking up through 10 feet of water at the green and yellow light playing on the surface, and wondering which of us could hold his breath the longest,” he wrote in The Guardian. “Blood rose from my body in clouds, and a sense of resignation overwhelmed me. I’ve no idea how long we stayed under — time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.”
Instead the hippo spit him out and he was able to make his way to another guide and be saved.
Imediatly following the attack, Templer says he felt a sense of calm – despite having his arm crushed and stripped of flesh.
“All the pain went away, and I knew that it was my moment of choice,” he says in the video. “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.”
The guide doesn’t think the attack was an accident. Read more here including why.
People die most often when they get between a hippo and deep water or between a mother and her calf.
Experience: I was swallowed by a hippo