A quick-thinking British vacationer played dead to avoid being mauled to death by supposedly tame cheetahs at a South African wildlife park.
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 shaken housewife was on vacation with her husband Archie, 64, when the terrifying incident happened.
D'Mello, who was rushed to hospital after the incident, said: 'It was terrifying and happened so quickly. 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.''
A guide at the game park in the Indian Ocean town of Port Elizabeth managed to pulled the second cat off Mrs D'Mello, but even as he did so, the first cheetah rejoined the fray, pining the Scot to the ground and biting and gouging her legs.
It was only when a group of park visitors worked together to pull the two animals off her that Mrs D'Mello was able to make a dash for the petting pen's gate.
Amazingly, D'Mello's husband Archibald had been outside the pen throughout the ordeal from where he captured these astonishing pictures of the attack as it happened.
After the attack, park manager Mike Cantor rushed Mrs D'Mello to hospital where she was received stitches for a wound in her head and was treated for injuries around her eye and leg.
''They weren't being vicious. You could tell they were just excited, but it became serious very quickly. This was meant to be a holiday, but it's really turned into a nightmare,'' said D'Mello.
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