Man Swallowed By Hippo, Retells Harrowing Near-Death Experience (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post | By Meredith Bennett-Smith

"There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest," Paul Templer said,recalling the moment he realized he had been swallowed by a hippopotamus.

At the time, Templer was 27, a river guide taking groups of tourists down the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls, along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

His near-death story appeared in The Guardian's "Experience" series on Friday and has since grabbed headlines around the world.

Templer, now living in Michigan, wrote in The Guardian that he knew the hippo -- his attempted murderer -- as a "grouchy old two-ton bull" that lurked in the stretch of river the tours traversed.

Hippos are a common sight above the falls, according to PBS. The massive mammals, which can weigh up to 8,000 pounds, can spend the majority of the daylight hours submerged to keep cool, reports National Geographic. Fast sprinters and strong swimmers, they 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."

Read more: Huffington Post

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