Cheetahs who attacked British tourist had 'already mauled US holidaymaker'

Ruth Doherty
Cheetahs who attacked British tourist had 'already mauled American holidaymaker'
Cheetahs who attacked British tourist had 'already mauled American holidaymaker'

Two cheetahs attacked British tourist Violet D'Mella in South Africa. Photo: Archibald D'Mello

Cheetahs who mauled British tourist Violet D'Mello had already attacked an American holidaymaker three years before, according to reports.

Officials at the Kragga Kamma game park in South Africa had said nothing similar to the attack on Mrs D'Mello, in which she suffered wounds to her head, stomach and legs, had ever happened before.

But Michelle Bodenheimer, from Portland Oregon, told the Daily Mail she had been attacked three years ago by the same animals, saying: "I am heartbroken to see that Kragga Kamma did not learn from my unfortunate experience.

"The attacks are not the fault of the cats. They could have been prevented. They are wild animals, which we tend to forget.

"People simply should not be allowed in with these beautiful, wild creatures."

Kragga Kamma manager Mike Cantor admitted he remembered the incident, telling the paper: "We are aware of what Mrs Bodenheimer has said, and I do remember the incident when she was scratched by the cheetahs. They were really young animals then and were particularly playful."

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, 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."

Something inside me just said: "Don't move. Don't move at all. Don't react, just play dead."

"I have had umpteen stitches in my head, my leg and along the side of my stomach."

She added: "This was meant to be a holiday, but it's really turned into a nightmare."

Read more about the attack on Mrs D'Mello here.

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