We know how close he came - cheetah victim's dad

2015-08-11 07:29
Aiden Fry's bandages after he was attacked by a cheetah. (Craig Fry, Supplied to News24)

Aiden Fry's bandages after he was attacked by a cheetah. (Craig Fry, Supplied to News24)

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Durban - A Pietermaritzburg schoolboy will spend his tenth birthday on Tuesday recovering from a horrific cheetah attack at a KwaZulu-Natal sanctuary last week.

Discharged from hospital on Monday morning, Aiden Fry is expected to make a full recovery, with his parents saying the idea that he almost didn’t return from his run-of-the-mill school trip remains firmly in the back of their minds. 

Fry was attacked at KwaCheetah near Ladysmith on Thursday when the animal clawed at him through a fence, scratching him. It then managed to get its head through the fence and bite him.

Fry’s father Craig told News24 of the dramatic series of events that played out in seconds.

Ordeal over in 12 seconds

“Aiden was with the group of kids outside the enclosure about 2.5 metres from the fence and there was a guide inside the enclosure who was probably about 10 metres away from the fence.

“Out of the blue the one animal launched itself at the fence and somehow managed to get its head and paws through. Hitting the fence with speed and force it pushed the fence forward and then the animal grabbed him [Aiden] with its claws and pulled him back. It bit down on his shoulder and back,” Fry said.

“The guides rushed over and jumped on the animal and from what we are told one of them stuck his fingers up the cheetah’s nose to get it to release its bite and this whole ordeal lasted at most 12 seconds,” he added.

Fry said in this short time the damage had been done, and his son was rushed to a Ladysmith hospital by school and sanctuary staff.

“They cleaned his wounds in Ladysmith and when he got home he didn’t look right and he started vomiting. On the Thursday night we took him to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg and they removed sutures and they needed to do surgery to get in there and clean up the infection which had already set in.”

Fry said that his physical prognosis aside, concerns of the psychological damage done by the incident would need to be addressed.

“The school have arranged for a psychologist to come in and talk to the rest of the kids who saw it happen to try and ward of any negative effects and they will make sure he gets the same.

“We know how close he came and it is something we try and not think about because what could have been is not pleasant. My wife is quite freaked out about it. He could not have returned from that school outing. No one expects those kinds of things to happen,” he said.


KwaCheetah Breeding Project spokesperson Clark Smith said there had never been any problem with the fences in the past.

KwaCheetah is adjacent to the Nambiti Game Reserve.

A full investigation will be held into the circumstances of the attack, he said.

''We are investigating the incident and finding out exactly what happened, and why it happened.''

Smith said the KwaCheetah Breeding project is currently home to 18 cheetahs which are being prepared for release into the wild.

However, none have been released yet as permits for this have yet to be issued by the authorities.

''It's a success in that a number of cheetahs have been born there and its obvious objective is to get the cheetah, which is a critically endangered species, back into the wild,'' said Smith.

None will be released to farms which permit hunting, he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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