‘Bad day at the office’ for tour guide who had arm ripped off by hippo

A tour guide who lost his arm in a tangle with an angry hippo described the near-death experience as a "bad day at the office".

Paul Templer was taking tourists down the Zambezi river in 1996 where groups can regularly spot animals such as giraffes, elephants and crocodiles.

But it is also the natural habitat for hippos, who can become territorial and vicious if they come into contact with humans.

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Templer has recalled how "a day that started like any other" ended with him becoming trapped in the mouth of the menacing mammal and a fellow guide losing their life, reports The Mirror.

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The dad-of-three also had previous with the hippo as he explained to the Guardian: "The hippo who tried to kill me wasn't a stranger – he and I had met before a number of times. I'd been working this stretch of river for years, and the grouchy old two-ton bull had carried out the occasional half-hearted attack.

"I'd learned to avoid him. Hippos are territorial and I knew where he was most likely to be at any given time."

The guide owned a business that took tourists down the river near the famous Victoria Falls and things appeared to be passing by as normal until he felt a whack and saw the boat of a fellow guide, Evans, being lifted out of the water.

Evans had been flung out of the boat but the two tourists remained inside.

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Paddling over to save Evans, who was later found drowned, Paul's world suddenly went dark.

He recounted: "I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf."

Bull hippos can grow over four metres long.

"There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest," Templer added. "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 realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth."

Templer, who is now a motivational speaker, subsequently suffered more than 40 puncture wounds, as he sustained catastrophic injuries with his lung becoming visible and his arm lost. He ended up at the bottom of the river and admitted: "That was the front end of a pretty bad day at the office."


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