A trip celebrating one Scottish woman’s milestone 60th birthday turned tragic when two “tame” cheetahs turned violent and attacked the woman at a game reserve in South Africa.
Violet D’Mello and her husband Archie were permitted to go up and pet the two brother cheetahs, Mark and Monty, at the Kragga Kamma Game Park in Port Elizabeth last weekend.
“They seemed to be pretty docile. They said they were hand reared from cubs and were extremely tame and one could, you know, stroke them and, not only that, lay on them and they’ll do nothing to you,” said Archie D’Mello.
The couple had just snapped a few pictures with the beasts and were still sitting in the petting area when one of the cheetahs grabbed an 8-year-old girl by the leg.
Violet D’Mello intervened to stop the attack. After the girl headed to safety, both cheetahs turned on her in a brutal attack that lasted for over three minutes.
For some reason, her husband-of-the-year candidate Archie D’Mello kept taking pictures as the big cats bit and scratched at his wife.
Violet D’Mello said her instinct told her to just lie still.
“Something inside me just said, ‘Don’t move. Don’t move at all. Don’t react, just play dead’,” she said.
Somehow, Violet escaped without any life-threatening injuries.
Park manager Mike Cantor said the park had never had any issues with the beloved cheetahs.
“It’s not something we’ve ever really experienced. It’s obviously very unfortunate, and we’re looking into what may have startled or riled up the cheetahs,” Cantor said.
The petting facility is currently closed to the public while the park conducts and investigation into the attack.
- Moment that ‘tame’ cheetahs mauled Scots holidaymaker (scotsman.com)
- Violet D’Mello mauled by ‘tame’ cheetahs at holiday safari park (dailymail.co.uk)
- #SouthAfrica Woman mauled by cheetahs at South Africa game park (oladapokolawole.com)
- Mauled in holiday park by tame cheetahs – Daily Mail (dailymail.co.uk)