‘We’ve been swallowed by hippos, scalped by polar bears and fought cougar with a pen’

‘We've been swallowed by hippos, scalped by polar bears and fought cougar with a pen’


It’s an incredible story of survival – the Brit who was attacked by a crocodile and lived to tell the tale.

Last week Melissa Laurie hit the headlines after she was pounced on by the reptile while backpacking in Mexico.

Her brave twin sister Georgia fought it off, but Melissa, 28, was left with a string of injuries after being dragged underwater by the 10ft beast and is now recovering from her ordeal.

And other people have also survived animal attacks against the odds.

Swallowed by a hippo

In 1996, safari guide Paul Templer was taking people out on a river in Zimbabwe when he was attacked by a “monster hippo” which swallowed him head first.



A hippo
A monster hippo swallowed him

Aged 27 at the time, Paul saw a fellow guide, Evans, flung from his boat, but as he rushed to help he felt himself being “engulfed in darkness”.

“It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf,” he recalled.

Paul had been swallowed by the animal, realising this when his palm passed through the bristles of the hippo’s snout.



The guide
Safari guide Paul Templer

After wriggling his way out when the hippo’s jaws briefly opened, Paul was then slammed around by the animal and swallowed for a second time.

He only escaped when the hippo spat him out.

Paul suffered 40 injuries including losing his left arm and having a wound “so savage” his lung was visible.

Evans’ body was found two days later.

Scalp ripped off by polar bear



A polar bear scratched him
The victim’s injuries from the polar bear

Inuit guide Kootoo Shaw needed 13 hours of surgery and 300 stitches to reattach his scalp after a polar bear ripped it off.

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The 46-year-old was on a group hunting trip in Canada in September 2003, when he woke to find the 400lb animal had clawed through the ceiling of his tent as he slept.

Kootoo tried to escape, but fell on a rock and the polar bear attacked him, slicing his head open with its teeth and claws.

He recalled: “It sounded like paper ripping. He had his claws under my neck for a while.”

One of the group grabbed a gun and shot the bear dead.

Kootoo’s miraculous survival was put down to the large quantity of sand removed from the blood-clotted area around his skull, with doctors saying this may have slowed down the bleeding from his head.

Rode an elephant like a bucking bronco



An elephant
An elephant in africa

Walking through the Loango National Park in Gabon, Central Africa, in 2002, American explorer J. Michael Fay was set upon by a female elephant.

Michael, who once spent 455 days walking through Africa so was used to the animals, said when the elephant charged he initially wasn’t afraid.

But that changed when he attempted to “bluff back” and it didn’t stop the creature.

He tried to run, but tripped.

As she got close to him, the pachyderm tried to stab him with her 16-inch sharp tusks, and also began crushing him with his body, a moment Michael believed was the end.

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But he managed to grab her by the tusks, saying he had to “ride that bronco as long as I could like a rodeo guy”.

He eventually went flying, but luckily the elephant gave up.

Michael’s ordeal left him with injuries including a punctured arm, his bicep open with the tendons showing and a sliced-through kneecap.

Almost eaten alive by lion



A lion mauled him
Gotz Neef was lucky to survive after being mauled by a lion

Wildlife researcher Gotz Neef was working in Botswana when a lion leapt on his tent and mauled him.

The attack, which happened last December, saw Gotz try and push the lion away with his sleeping bag before it began to bite.

His colleague Dr Rainer Von Brandis, ran semi-naked from his own tent to take on the lion armed only with a branch.



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He said: “I beat it with a big piece of a tree but it did nothing and then our head ranger Tomalets Setlabosha came out.

“The lion jumped a bit but it was so hungry and so desperate and this was its last chance at a kill to feed or it would die.

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“So it restarted its attack and began trying to eat Gotz again.”

Tomalets got into his Land Cruiser and ran the lion over three times before it finally let go of Gotz, who had multiple bite injuries.

Touched alligator’s taste buds



An alligator
An alligator tried to attack him in Florida

Florida man James Morrow is one of the few people to survive an attack by a hungry alligator.

He was on a snorkelling trip in 1997 when the gator chomped down after he entered the water.

James said: “Next thing I knew my head was inside the gator’s mouth. He started shaking me like a rag doll.

“I think my head was so far down his mouth that I touched his taste buds.”

He believes the alligator tasted him and decided he didn’t want to eat him.

James suffered various injuries including a punctured lung and multiple head wounds, and thinks the snorkelling mask saved his life as that took the brunt of the attack.

“If I hadn’t had it on, he could have put one of my eyes out or punctured my jugular,” he added.

Stabbed cougar with pen



He was attacked by a cougar
Jim Ham realised he would have to fight the cougar

Husband and wife Jim and Nell Ham, aged 70 and 66, were hiking through the Redwoods in California when a cougar flew out of the tall trees and landed on the path in front of them.

It leapt at Jim, who realised he was going “to have to fight this thing”.

But as he hit it, the animal knocked him over and bit his head.

Jim shouted to Nell for help, saying: “I’ve got a pen in my pocket, get it and jab him in the eye”.

After several attempts, Nell managed to stab the big cat with the pen and it ran off.

Jim was taken to hospital with several deep cuts on his body, and the pair now speak out about safety while hiking.





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