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Paul Templer, River Guide Who Survived Being Swallowed By A Hippo, Tells Of Ordeal (VIDEO)

13/05/2013 16:20 BST | Updated 13/07/2013 10:12 BST

A river guide has described his miraculous survival after being swallowed by an angry hippo in the Zambezi river, near Victoria Falls.

Paul Templer had gone to the aid of a man who had been knocked into the river, when he was also hurled into the water and then swallowed by the two-ton male beast.

He recalled: "There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs."

He told The Guardian: "There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf."

Templer, then 27, struggled with the animal, holding onto the tusks that bore through him in an attempt to limit the tearing of his skin. Sadly, the man he was trying to save drowned.

Now living in Michigan, Templer told his story to The Guardian's 'Experience' series, and has since seen the tale of his ordeal go around the world.

angry hippo

Templer was attacked by a two-tonne male hippo (file picture)

The hippo's teeth savaged Templer's chest and left arm, but he told The Chicago Tribune in an earlier interview that he still counts himself very lucky.

"I went straight down his throat," Templer said in the Tribune. And yet, when the hippo "bit into my lungs he missed my heart. He missed my liver and kidneys."

Although Templer lost an arm in the attack, he has not lost his spirit and now works as a motivational speaker, putting the incident down to a "bad day in the office".

In a video interview with the BBC he explained: "Stuff happens. Life is going to happen. The only thing we have any choice over is how we respond to what life throws at us."

He also revealed he had been back to the Zambezi since the attack, leading a three-month expedition, and while he had encountered some hippos, he "didn't get too close".

"Out there in the wild, we were the intruders," Templer explains in the above YouTube video titled "A Bad Day at the Office," which further recounts the harrowing event.

Hippos, which can weigh up to 8,000 lbs, are a common sight on the Zambezi river. They are fast sprinters and swimmers and can hold their breath for several minutes, reports National Geographic.

According to Discovery, hippos are considered the deadliest animal in Africa and are involved in more human fatalities than any other species, including crocodiles.

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