Model thought she was going to die after leopard mauls face at photoshoot

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-year-old leopard, suddenly lashed out and bit her cheek, ear 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 lost consciousness and was airlifted to the hospital where she underwent surgery and was left with permanent scarring.

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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 authorities.

"It was unfortunate. I am glad there was no request to euthanise the animal."

The police are investigating who else was present at the photoshoot and what safety precautions were taken.

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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."

However, owner Birgit Stache, 48, who has worked as an animal trainer for 20 years and holds a legal license to keep the animals, is currently being investigated for negligent bodily harm along with other people responsible for the animals on the farm.

The authorities are considering taking away Stache's license for the retirement home for show animals.

Approximately 135 animals reside in the facility, which was mostly booked for photoshoots by interested individuals and companies.

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