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Woman, child survive mauling by cheetahs at wildlife park

Archibald D'Mello via AP

Violet D'Mello is attacked by cheetahs on April 28 at Kragga Kamma Game Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

A tourist who, along with a child, was mauled by two cheetahs at the petting area of a wildlife park in South Africa lived to talk about it, saying she decided to play dead in hopes she'd survive.

"Something inside me just said, 'Don't move. Don't move at all," Violet D'Mello told the Port Elizabeth Herald. "Don't react, just play dead'."

D'Mello, from Scotland, said her husband was taking pictures of her with the cheetahs at the Kragga Kamma Game Park when one grabbed the leg of a nearby child. 

The girl got free, though with deep scratches that required stitches, and as her brother ran away D'Mello reached out to grab him.


"As I stopped him, something jumped me from behind," she said. 

A guide pulled the cheetah off her, but not before it had pawed at her head. Then the second bit D'Mello's legs, keeping her pinned down.

"It all happened in just a few minutes," she said of the incident on April 28, "but it was a nightmare."

Archibald D'Mello via AP

Blood oozes from the neck of Violet D'Mello after the attack.

"They weren't being vicious. You could tell they (the cheetahs) were just excited, but it became serious very quickly."

The cheetahs are brothers that have been hand-reared since birth.

The bitten child, Camryn Malan, had wanted to see the cheetahs after doing a school report on the animals.

"They are not sleeping," Samuel Malan said of his children. "They wake up screaming. I keep seeing it ... Just to see that thing biting that lady."

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