Model Attacked By Leopard As She Posed For A Photoshoot Inside Its Enclosure
A leopard has attacked a model who was posing inside the animal’s enclosure at a private retirement home for show animals in Germany.
The 36-year-old woman subsequently had to be flown from the Seniorrenresidenz fur Showtiere sanctuary to a specialist clinic for her injuries.
Jessica Leidolph, from Thuringia in central Germany, was named by Bild on Tuesday, August 24, as being the model involved in the incident.
Leidolph, who goes by the name of ‘Lady Butterfly’ on her Facebook, had to be airlifted to a specialist clinic by helicopter after sustaining severe head injuries.
She told Bild the leopard ‘repeatedly kept biting my cheek, ear and head’. It is unclear what the photoshoot was for and who the organisers were.
Emergency services first thought that the leopard had managed to escape its enclosure, and so issued an alert for the public to stay at home. The alert was lifted after 15 minutes when Burgenland district authorities realised that the animal had not escaped and that the woman had, in fact, been inside the enclosure.
The sanctuary’s two leopards are named in reports as Troja, aged 16, and Paris, aged 18. The pair of leopards are reported by Bild as having been used in adverts for plasma TVs.
Police are now investigating the owner of the animals, 48-year-old animal trainer Birgit Stache, as per Bild. Stache is suspected of negligent bodily harm.
The owner and handler has reportedly owned the leopards since 2019, according to Sky News. She has also worked as an animal trainer for circuses and amusement parks for 20 years.
The keeping of leopards is not legally restricted by the state, according to authorities in Burgenland. It is only the animal’s accommodation that must meet certain legal requirements, and district vets are responsible for carrying out such checks.
It is reported that a district vet visited the animals at the sanctuary on August 3, who reported that the animals behaved ‘appropriately and inconspicuously’ and that they appeared ‘apparently healthy’.
Authorities added that on August 18, an inspection of the enclosure was also carried out, which did not show any structural defects.
The Burgenland district website details how the veterinary office tried to move the animals with the help of the 48-year-old animal owner. However, they wrote that the attempt to move the leopards on a voluntary basis proved unsuccessful.
The veterinary office has tried several times in the past to place the old animals in zoological parks. This also included inquiries to zoological parks abroad. These attempts were unsuccessful.
Without accommodation of the animals in the said animal enclosure, only euthanasia of the animals would be possible.
Animals rights group PETA responded to the attack by condemning the use of big cats for commercial gain. It subsequently called for the animals to only be kept in recognised rescue centres to prevent them being exploited, reported the BBC.
The district website concluded that a further visit to the Seniorrenresidenz fur Showtiere is set to take place.
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