Charlie and Matt, the two 100-pound cheetahs who playfully mauled their new owner, Judy Berens, in Florida, escaped the immediate death sentence given to Tatiana, the tiger at the San Francisco Zoo.
Fortunately, Judy “gets” us cats and says it’s all been blown out of proportion. Although bloodied by the cheetahs, she walked unassisted out of the enclosure to go to the hospital.
The cheetahs batted her around like a big cat toy for about 10 minutes. Judy said she never felt afraid, even though these cats have only known her for about 3 months.
Judy described wounds on her arms, legs, and back as “no big deal.” She needed a few stitches, a couple of staples, and some antibiotics and was released from the hospital after a 2-night stay.
Last December, it took Tatiana only a moment to kill one boy and slash two others after they allegedly taunted her into leaping the wall of her enclosure.
It’s been learned that Charlie and Matt loved playing with small balls as “kittens” in South Africa. Seeing a child bouncing a ball apparently triggered happy memories, so they didn’t plan to make a meal of Judy.
In an interesting switch, authorities considered charging Judy in the attack, but the cheetahs’ enclosure was sound and spectators were never in danger. They did recommend that Judy have a helper nearby from now on.
I hope Judy can teach Charlie and Matt how to focus for future performances.