A model who was mauled by a leopard during a photoshoot has revealed the horror she went through when she thought she would bleed to death.
Jessica Leidolph, 36, was left with horrific injuries after entering the big cats’ enclosure at a retirement home for animals in the city of Nebra, Germany, on August 24.
Troja, a 16 years old leopard, suddenly lashed out at her and bit her cheek, ears and head.
Speaking for the first time since the incident she told Bild: “He attacked me, I couldn’t look that fast. I was sitting by the tree trunk and all of a sudden I was lying on the ground.
“He bit into my cheek, ear, head, and then again and again on my head.
“I screamed, put my hands in front of my face. At some point, he let go of me for a moment so that I could roll away and get out of the cage. A little while later, the ambulance and helicopter were there.
“If the leopard had caught my carotid artery, it would have been over.
“When it happened, I thought: ‘It’s over now. I know I was very lucky that I am still alive at all’.”
Jessica became unconscious and was taken to the hospital for surgery.
Describing her injuries, she added: “I can’t put any weight on my left arm. The swollen half of my face feels like after a dental operation. I am plasticising with chopsticks so that I can eat properly again.”
But despite the terrifying incident, she does not want the leopard to be put down.
“I don’t want the animal to be killed, it just followed its instincts,” She begged for help from authorities.
“It was unfortunate. I am glad there was no request to euthanise the animal.”
Police are currently investigating the presence of anyone else at the photoshoot as well as safety precautions taken.
A Burgenlandkreis district spokesperson revealed that keeping leopards does not require a permit in Saxony-Anhalt and said: “It is not legally limited by the state.”
Birgit Stache (48), who has been a trainer for animals for over 20 years, holds a license to keep them. She is also being investigated for negligent bodily injury.
Authorities may take Stache’s license to operate the retirement home for show-animals.
Around 135 animals live in the facility. This was primarily used for photoshoots and other purposes by interested parties and companies.
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