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Swallowed by hippo and alive to tell tale: Guide has close encounter in Zimbabwe

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The phrase "swallowed by hippo" is trending on May 9. And after a close encounter that included a vicious attack courtesy of this large animal, a guide named Paul Templer is alive to tell about that harrowing experience that happened in Zimbabwe when he was visiting Victoria Falls almost two decades ago with a canoe full of passengers.

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According to Time, the then 27-year-old was headed down the Zambezi River, a travel adventure he had enjoyed many times in the past. However, this time was different because a male hippo attacked his group of tourists and beginner guides.

Templer said that one of the apprentice guides was literally "flung out of the boat" while the boat that still contained a couple of the sojourners was "lifted half out of the water on the back of the huge bull hippo."

Just as Templer attempted to everyone to safety as he went to rescue his colleague, he claims, "I was [suddently] engulfed in darkness. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf."

Yep, Paul Templer was swallowed by a hippo but when the massive beast let out a big breath his captor managed to miraculously escape. Talk about almost taking your last breath. That was this adventurers' experience, having been released from the immense animal only to be caught once more.

To be sure, the hippo once again caught his prey but didn't keep him this time either. One spit from the big guy after emerging from the deep and Paul was a free man. An apprentice reached his boss and tended to his wounds which were extensive, including a puncture that actually had one of this guide's lungs exposed.

So did this experience, which included the loss of his left arm, render Templer afraid to continue to pursue his chosen career? No way. A couple of years later, he once again took a group down Zimbabwe's mighty Zambezi.

And guess what? When the lot passed by the patch where Paul was swallowed by a hippo, one popped out of the water very close to the canoe full of adventurers. At that point, Templer's screams were so piercing that the huge animal backed off, hastily going back into the water.

So was this the same hippo who tried to gulp down this intrepid traveler in the first place?

According to the man who was swallowed by the hippo, that would be a resounding "yes." He said that he would "... bet [his] life savings it was the same hippo, determined to have the final word." And so that's how "swallowed by hippo" became a trending topic on May 9. Quite the travel tale to last a lifetime, don't you think?

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