The moment British woman was mauled by 'tame' cheetahs at holiday safari park and had to play dead to survive

A quick-thinking British holidaymaker played dead to avoid being mauled to death by supposedly tame cheetahs at a South African wildlife park.

Violet D'Mello, 60, was wrestled to the ground by a captive big cat after she entered an enclosure at a wildlife park where tourists are invited to pet the animals.

The shaken housewife, from Aberdeen, was on holiday with her husband Archie, 64, when the terrifying incident happened.

She told today how she was thrown to the ground as two cheetahs mauled at her head, stomach and legs.
Mrs D'Mello, who was rushed to hospital after the incident, said: 'It was terrifying and happened so quickly.

Calm before storm: Violet D'Mello seconds before she is attacked by cheetah

Bloody: Violet shows injuries as animals lurk before starting another attack

'One minute I was in the enclosure with the cheetahs and the next it was biting at my head.

'I was thrown to the ground and had to play dead while it mauled my legs and stomach.'

A guide at the game park in the Indian Ocean town of Port Elizabeth managed to pulled the second cat off Mrs D'Mello, but even as he did so, the first cheetah rejoined the fray, pining the Scot to the ground and biting and gouging her legs.

It was only when a group of park visitors worked together to pull the two animals off her that Mrs D'Mello was able to make a dash for the petting pen's gate.

Ordeal: The attack lasted around three minutes and her husband captured these shots
Amazingly, Mrs D'Mello's husband Archibald had been outside the pen throughout the ordeal from where he captured these astonishing pictures of the attack as it happened.

After the attack, park manager Mike Cantor rushed Mrs D'Mello to hospital where she was received stitches for a wound in her head and was treated for injuries around her eye and leg.

Camryn Malan, 8, also needed stitches for the gashes in her leg, Mr Cantor said, adding: 'Everyone has been a bit traumatised by it all'.

Mr Cantor explained that he had raised the two four-year-old cheetahs, brothers named Mark and Monty, since they were born.

Vice-like grip: Violet is pinned to the ground by cheetah's jaws
He said: 'I have grown up with these cheetahs and they are not aggressive animals. It is almost like they wanted to play with the woman.What happened was that a young girl got a bit uptight and then ran away and the cheetah grabbed her by the leg.

'The trouble is that cheetahs, like dogs, don't have retractable claws and so they would have injured as they did so. The other lady [Mrs D'Mello] went in to assist and the cheetahs probably thought it was a play time.

'It was a very busy at the park that day, which may have aggravated them somewhat.'

Yesterday Mrs D'Mello, from Aberdeen, told South Africa's Herald newspaper: 'It all happened in just a few minutes, but it was a nightmare.

Injuries: Hospital staff told Violet she was lucky to be alive
'They weren't being vicious. You could tell they were just excited, but it became serious very quickly. This was meant to be a holiday, but it's really turned into a nightmare.

Mrs D'Mello said she needed dozens of stitches after the attack.

'It really came from nowhere and I was totally helpless. The doctor at the hospital said cheetahs usually aim for the stomach area and disembowel their victims, so I was lucky to be alive', she said.

'Both cheetahs were on me and there was nothing I could do.They have sharp claws that stick out of their paws and were really strong.'

Terror: Violet is helpless as cheetahs tear at her head and body
She added: 'I have had umpteen stitches in my head, my leg and along the side of my stomach.

'We're back on holiday now but have to reschedule our trip so I can go to hospital next week to have the stitches out.

'We love animals and especially cats as we've had some of our own.I worried about the little children being so close to the cheetahs but I never imagined for a moment they would attack an adult.'

Source : dailymail


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