UK & World News
UK Tourist Mauled By Cheetahs At Game Park
A British tourist has been mauled by two apparently tame cheetahs in a South African game reserve - in an attack caught on camera.
Violet D'Mello had just posed for a photograph with one of the hand-reared animals in an enclosure when the ordeal happened.
She played dead to try to stop being attacked by cheetahs Mark and Monty and said the incident had turned her month-long holiday - to celebrate her 60th birthday - into a "nightmare".
Mrs D'Mello and her husband Archie, 64, were in a petting area with a guide when, she said, one of the cheetahs grabbed an eight-year-old girl who was there with her family.
The child was left with cuts on her legs, and then the cheetah appeared to run after her seven-year-old brother, she added.
Mrs D'Mello, from Aberdeen, told the Port Elizabeth Herald newspaper: "They weren't being vicious. You could tell they (the cheetahs) were just excited, but it became serious very quickly."
Then, as she tried to protect the boy, she said "something jumped me from behind". The cheetah knocked her to the ground and attacked her.
The guide frantically tried to pull the animal off her as Mrs D'Mello played dead at the Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth.
She said: "Something inside me just said, 'Don't move. Don't move at all. Don't react, just play dead'."
As soon as the guide managed to prise the first animal off, the other one bit Mrs D'Mello's legs and held her down.
Visitors struggled to get the big cats off and after a few minutes, they all managed to run to the gate.
"This was meant to be a holiday, but it's really turned into a nightmare," said Mrs D'Mello, who reportedly suffered wounds on her head, stomach and legs and was taken to hospital.
The reserve is believed to have been closed as an investigation into the incident takes place.
Park manager Mike Cantor said it was not clear what had sparked the attack by the cheetahs, who had been hand-reared since birth and were considered extremely tame.
"From what we've been told, there was a lot of commotion at the scene, which, unfortunately, most likely aggravated them somewhat," Mr Cantor told the paper.
"We're also considering the possibility that a female in heat in one of the neighbouring enclosures might have played a role here, but we can't be sure at this stage."