Friday night (as per the norm) was clubbing. We went to two places, and got surrounding by men, forcing us to leave the place at around 2 am. I was hungover, and not in the mood to do anything. Nevertheless, we’d booked the lion and cheetah walk, and had to go.
It was just Adrian and I at the walk, and it was pretty cool. I wore one of my favourite dresses for the photos, and carried my camera because I’d never seen a lion outside the zoo, much less touch one. It was a small little group that was gathered for the lion walk, which was rather intimidating. The lions were siblings and only 22 months old, but looked bigger than you would imagine them to be. They were lazing around in the shade due to the heat on Saturday, and the handlers were trying so hard to keep their eyes open so we could have our photos. They showed us what to do, and what not to do with the lions and everyone followed the instructions to the core. The lions were pretty chill. They gave plenty of photo ops, and were fine with people holding their tails and hugging them. They looked almost tamed.
It was in this rather ignorant mindset that we went to see the cheetahs as well. The cheetahs, they said, were much calmer and better than the lions and didn’t act in unpredictable ways. Considering this, and the fact that cheetahs wore a harness at all times, there was minimal safety talk. That was the big mistake. We had three people who had come for the cheetah walk, and two cheetahs. Adrian and I ended up sharing a cheetah, taking photos with it. Our cheetah was licking Adrian and it gave some great poses for his photos. It let me stay for a while and stroke its back as well, and it sat there innocently. It was only later, when I was standing and it was sitting on the ground for the photo, and it decided to jump on me.
It all happened in an instant, but I still remember everything vividly. The cheetah, suddenly turning and pouncing on me, its jaw dangerously close to my neck. Me trying to get away, and being unable to with its paws around my waist. The commotion, and then suddenly me being away from the cheetah. I looked at my dress. It was torn from the right, which bummed me out. People asked me if I was fine, and I said yes I was fine but my dress was torn at my waist. Then, Adrian tells me, “You’re hurt, look”. I look closely and notice the dress being red, and a cut on my waist, the flesh bare. The handlers got their bags out with antiseptic, and cleaned my wound up. I didn’t hurt as much back then, thanks to the shock and the adrenaline. I kept saying that it’s a scratch, it didn’t hurt much and that I was fine. I assumed that as long as I don’t get infections, it was going to be okay. Boy, was I wrong.
After a while of finally getting to the reception (since everyone refused to walk with the cheetahs anymore) the manager, and his boss, all turned up to take a look at my wound. They were a general mess, running my injury with savlon and alcohol swabs, and then putting bandaids and then ripping them off, and then putting them on again. I wanted their honest answer about need for medical attention, the risk for infections and to find out if I needed to et some medicines to avoid any damage. I didn’t need my money back, and I didn’t want to turn hostile either, because my priority was not dying of an infection rather than getting $40 back.
What made the entire thing funny was that Adrian, being the kind of guy he is, asked me “Are you okay?” and immediately followed it up by “Can I take pictures?” He was so bummed about having to miss his pizza and cigarettes for me, and surprisingly, it made me laugh.
To give credit where it’s due, the people responsible did call up a doctor and took me to a clinic (in a rather fancy resort, I might add) and she gave me good treatment and instructions. I got medicines and other dressing material stuff for free, which is great because my insurance does not cover random cheetah attacks. To assure you guys, the wound hurts more than it did before, but it’s covered and it doesn’t look like it’s infected. Anyway, Sunbird is trying to get me a free checkup tomorrow for this wound, just to be safe.
In all, this freak accident reminded me of a very important fact. The wild, no matter how used to humans and loving to them, are still wild. They may not intend to harm you, but they might just end up ripping your neck off while trying to play. This one didn’t mean any harm, or else I would’ve been dead. Meh, I still have a scar with a cool story.