SOUTH AFRICA- WORLD NEWS TOMORROW: Housewife Violet D’Mello, 60, from Aberdeen, was rushed to hospital last month after the two big cats leaped on her in a petting enclosure at a private game park. Owners of the Kragga Kamma wildlife reserve claimed the male cheetahs Mark and Monty were tame and had never attacked humans before. So news investigated and made a remarkable discovery. An American tourist has since told a South African newspaper she was also injured when the pair lunged at her during a holiday three years ago.
Michelle Bodenheimer, from Portland, Oregon, told the media people should not be allowed in the enclosure with the cheetahs. She said: “I am heartbroken to see that Kragga Kamma did not learn from my unfortunate experience. She added: “In hindsight, I wish I had pushed the matter further at the time as perhaps it would have prevented this other poor woman from being attacked.” Mrs Bodenheimer told the media she visited the Kragga Kamma game park with her husband in June 2009.
She said she had been attacked after she entered the enclosure to stroke the cheetahs, then fully-grown cubs. Mrs Bodenheimer said she had been horrified to read last week that the same thing had happened when Mrs D’Mello visited the same cheetahs on April 28. The Scottish mother of two was on a month-long dream holiday with her husband Archie, 64, when they stopped at the Kragga Kamma reserve near the Indian Ocean city of Port Elizabeth.Mrs D’Mello told how the couple entered the enclosure with a local family before one of the cheetahs attacked an eight yearold girl.
The brother cats then both lunged at her as she tried to protect the girl’s younger brother, seven, from the beasts. Mrs D’Mello suffered serious wounds across her head, stomach and legs during the terrifying three minute attack which finally ended after a member of staff scared the cheetahs off with a stick.She was taken to hospital and needed dozens of stitches before she spent three days in bed recovering from the ordeal. Mrs Bodenheimer told the Media she read of the incident last week and immediately emailed the park to express her disappointment that another attack had been allowed to happen.
She said: “They pointed out that when I was attacked the cheetahs were cubs. “I pointed out that although the cheetahs were ‘cubs’ at the time, they were 18 months old and it was explained to me that they are fully grown at that point but still have a kitten mentality.” Kragga Kamma manager Mike Cantor today admitted the cheetahs had been involved in previous incidents with guests. However he said it was to be expected that young cheetahs would act playfully with humans.
He said: “We are aware of what Mrs Bodenheimer has said and I do remember the incident a few years ago when she was scratched by the cheetahs.
“They were really young animals then and were particularly playful. “From the report I received at the time from my staff, it didn’t sound like a particularly serious or sinister incident. “There have been the occasional other incident too when people have been scratched by the cheetahs.”Mrs Bodenheimer should have made more of it and let us know her concerns.” Mr Cantor added that the petting facility at the park remained closed and said he was considering moving Mark and Monty to a bigger enclosure where they would not be allowed near humans. He said: “Attack sounds like a horrible thing, but I think the cheetahs are really just being playful.”Obviously it is not good if people are getting hurt so we are having to review our policy. “The petting facility is closed at the moment while we decide what to do. “It might be that we decide it’s not worth the hassle of keeping it open.
South Africa should perhaps review their safety regulations on how they protect tourist from being scandald from their “Bones” !