In 1996, Paul Temper, then-28, was leading photographic safaris in Zimbabwe and loving life when a hippo swallowed him up to his waist. He was leading a group down the Zambezi river when they spotted a pod of a dozen hippos. The plan was to paddle around them but then all hell broke loose.
"Suddenly, there's this big thud," Temper recalls. "And I see the canoe, like the back of it, catapulted up into the air. And Evans, the guide in the back of the canoe, catapulted out of the canoe."
Temper paddled back to rescue Evans and then….
"I'm leaning over – it's kind of a made-for-Hollywood movie – Evans is reaching up. … Our fingers almost touched. And then the water between us just erupted. Happened so fast I didn't see a thing."
What happened next was nightmarish and surreal.
"My world went dark and strangely quiet." Templer said it took a few seconds to figure out what was going on.
"From the waist down, I could feel the water. I could feel I was wet in the river. From my waist up, it was different. I was warm, and it wasn't wet like the river, but it wasn't dry either. And it was just incredible pressure on my lower back. I tried to move around; I couldn't.
"I realized I was up to my waist down a hippo's throat…."
"I'm guessing I was wedged so far down its throat it must have been uncomfortable because he spat me out. So I burst to the surface, sucked a lungful of fresh air and I came face to face with Evans, the guide who I was trying to rescue. And I said, 'We got to get out of here!' "
Too late. The hippo briefly grabbed Temper again but finally spit him back out.
One of the other apprentice guides managed to pull Temper to safety on a nearby rock. His lung was punctured and they used saran wrap from their snack plate to stop the bleeding. Later, surgeons amputated one of his arms.
Evans's body was found three days later.