A British woman's holiday of a lifetime in South Africa has turned into a "nightmare" after she was mauled by cheetahs at a safari park.
Violet D'Mello, from Aberdeen, was celebrating her 60th birthday with her husband at the Kragga Kamma Game Reserve in Port Elizabeth, where they were told it was safe to get up close and personal with the cheetahs.
Staff reassured her that two cheetah brothers, Mark and Monty, were hand-reared from birth and completely tame.
Mrs D'Mello and her husband entered their enclosure with a young family, and saw one of the cheetahs grab a seven-year-old girl.
According to the Telegraph, it was when Mrs D'Mello tried to stop the girl's brother from running to the gate that a cheetah turned on her, gouging her head.
She told South Africa's Times newspaper that at first it seemed like play, but that it "turned serious very quickly".
A park attendant tried to pull the cheetah off her, but as he did so, another cheetah pinned her to the ground and started biting at her legs.
After about three minutes, Mrs D'Mello was able to escape after a woman from reception ran over with a stick.
Mrs D'Mello's husband Archie had been outside the enclosure during the attack, and took these pictures.
According to the Daily Mail, he said: "It was totally frantic and terrifying, a real melee.
"Violet was on the ground and the animal kept biting her head and thighs.
"The other cheetah came over too and was scratching at her.
"I couldn't do anything and the guide didn't even have a stick to defend herself."
He added: "The last week has been a nightmare, but we're just relieved that we are both in one piece and want to make the most of the trip."
Mrs D'Mello, who was taken to hospital immediately after the incident, told the Port Elizabeth Herald newspaper: "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."
"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.
"This was meant to be a holiday, but it's really turned into a nightmare."
Kragga's manager Dave Cantor told the Port ElizabethHerald: "They are pretty playful but they love human contact and we have never had an problem with them before. They usually purr like crazy when people stroke them.
"This time I think it was really just a freak incident. It was a long weekend and there were lots of children around the outside of the enclosure so perhaps the cheetahs got riled up.
"One of the children inside the enclosure then got pretty excited and started running, and perhaps that's what tipped them over the edge. It sounds like this lady stepped in to assist and the cheetahs then jumped on her."
He said there was no question about the animals being put down, and the petting area has been closed pending an investigation.
Graham Kerley, director for the Centre for African Conservation Ecology, said it is important to remember that cheetahs are wild animals. He told the Port ElizabethHerald: "Keep in mind that in the last 10 to 12 years, three people have been killed by captive lions. We mustn't pretend these are tame pussycats here.
"They are wild and should be considered dangerous."
World's deadliest animals
British woman attacked by cheetahs at game reserve in South Africa
Although they might look cumbersome and cute, hippos are actually one of the most feared animals in Africa, and can outrun a human. When a male feels its territory is threatened, or a female thinks her offspring her in danger, these animals can be particularly dangerous. And with huge teeth and mouth that can open four feet wide, it's a good idea to steer clear. Kills: An estimated 100-150 people a year. Deadly technique: Hippos will charge, trample and gore its victims, and have been known to upturn boats and canoes without warning. Lives in: Africa
Many people might not realise that the cape buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, and will react with force when it feels threatened. These beasts can weigh up to 1.5 tons and stand at 1.7 metres high; they're so intimidating that even lions don't usually consider them dinner. Cape buffalos will charge, and then gore its victim to death with its impressive horns. Kills: An estimated 200 people a year. Deadly technique: These animals will charge and gore their victims to death with their huge horns. Lives in: Africa
Out of the world's 2,000 species of snake, around 250 are thought to be capable of killing a man. The Asian cobra does not have the deadliest venom, but is believed to be responsible for the biggest portion of the thousands of snakebite deaths every year. In Africa, the black mamba is the largest venomous snake and, during an attack, can strike up to 12 times, each time delivering enough neuro and cardio-toxic venom to kill a dozen men within 1 hour. Kills: An estimated 50-125,000 people a year. Deadly technique: A snake will use its fangs to pierce the skin and inject its paralysing venom. Lives in: Africa, Asia, Australia, North America
Box jellyfish can have up to 60 tentacles as long as 15 feet. And each tentacle contains enough venom to kill 50 humans, making it one of the most venomous marine creatures in the world. If stung, a box jellyfish can kill a man within minutes. Kills: An estimated 100 people a year. Deadly technique: Jellyfish use their tentacles to pump venom and paralyse its prey. Deaths in humans are usually a result of cardiac arrest. Lives in: Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Apart from humans, the mosquito is the deadliest creature on the planet. It kills millions of people every year through the spread of diseases like malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever. Many of the malaria victims are children under the age of five. Kills: Two to three million people a year. Deadly technique: Female mosquitos pierce the skin with serrated mouth parts, and inject a saliva with a thinning agent to liquidise the blood. Lives in: Worldwide, more harmful in Africa, Asia and North America
The great white shark, which can grow up to six metres in length and weigh up to five tons, seems to have the most ferocious reputation. But, while they have been known to attack humans, most of these incidents are thought to be 'test bites', where the animal is deciphering whether he wants to eat you. And, generally, they humans are not on the menu. It is thought the aggressive bull shark is responsible for the most attacks on people. Out of the 360 shark species, only four are known killers: the great white, the bull, tiger, and the oceanic white tip. Kills: An estimated 100 people a year. Deadly technique: Sharks use their razor-sharp teeth to rip chunks out of its victims. Great whites usually take a big single bite, drag their victims into deeper waters, and wait until the prey bleeds to death before they eat it. Lives in: Florida, Australia, Hawaii and South Africa.
The are lots of different species of bear, but the polar, black and grizzly are the deadliest. Native to the Arctic, polar bears could decapitate a human being with one swipe of their massive paws. Bears generally attack when they are hungry, so it's a good idea to keep food away from your camp. Kills: An estimated 5 to 10 people a year. Deadly technique: Bear will use their teeth and claws to maul and trample their victims. Lives in: North America, Canada, North Pole, and Russia.
Crocodiles have been around for 200 million years, and are fearsome predators. The saltwater crocodile, or saltie, is the largest living reptile in the world, and can grow up to 21ft long and weigh 1.6 tons. These animals can run extremely fast on land, and, in the water, can swim as fast as dolphin. Many fatalities occur when people are washing or gathering food near river banks. Kills: An estimated 600-800 people a year. Deadly technique: Crocodiles will grab their victims with terrifying speed, and often launch into a 'death roll', weakening its prey, dragging it under water and drowning the victim. Lives in: Africa and Australia
Out of the 1,500 species of scorpion, the African spitting scorpion is thought to be the most deadly, and can spray its venom up to a metre. Arounf 25 species of scorpion are thought to be deadly to humans. Kills: An estimated 800-2,000 people a year. Deadly technique: Scorpions use their tail stingers to paralyse their prey with venom. Lives in: Worldwide; particularly Africa, the Americas and Central Asia.
Weighing in at up to eight tons, although beautiful creatures, elephants can be lethal. African elephants in particular can be aggressive, especially older bulls and young males. These creatures, unsurprisingly, are more aggressive in areas where poaching is rife or when their habitat is threatened. Kills: An estimated 300-500 people a year. Deadly technique: Most human deaths are result of the elephant trampling on its victim. Lives in: Africa and India
African lions are the biggest of the big cats, and are known to kill around 70 people in Tanzania alone every year. With the destruction of their habitat, human attacks by leopards in India, and the North American mountain lion are thought to be on the increase. Kills: An estimated 800 people a year. Deadly technique: African lions will often use strangulation to kill their prey, while tigers will attack from the back and aim for the jugular, and mountain lions will maul their victims. Lives in: Africa, North America, and India