Published on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

British tourist mauled by 'tame' cheetah

A British woman has been mauled by a ‘tame’ cheetah while visiting a safari park in South Africa.

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 housewife, from Aberdeen, was visiting private Kragga Kamma game reserve near the city of Port Elizabeth with her husband Archie when the cheetahs became ‘agitated’.

First they attacked an eight year old girl before turning on Mrs D’Mello who was rushed to hospital after the three-minute ordeal and given stitches.

Mrs D’Mello told South Africa’s Herald newspaper: "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."

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

He said: "They are not aggressive animals. It is almost like they wanted to play with the woman.What happened was that the young girl got a bit uptight and then ran away and the cheetah grabbed her by the leg.

"The other lady [Mrs D'Mello] went in to assist and the cheetahs probably thought it was a play time."

Big cat expert Graham Kerley, from the Centre for African Conservation Ecology, warned tourists that cheetahs can respond more aggressively to children than adults and he warned parents against having their children too close to wild cats.

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