‘It was like in a dream… I gave him my hands so he wouldn’t rip my throat’ the Russian zookeeper reveals her last thoughts of her children as she waited to die.
Daily Mail has the story:
A zookeeper mauled by a tiger in a Russian zoo has described the moment she thought she would die when a giant tiger pounced on her in photographs which shocked the world. Nadezhda Srivastava, a 44-year-old mother-of-three, was left in critical condition after being savaged by male tiger Typhoon at Kaliningrad Zoo two weeks ago. Speaking out for the first time since her extraordinary fight for life, Ms Srivastava describes being mauled for ten minutes – which seemed like ‘an eternity’ – after getting trapped in its cage. She revealed how she prepared herself for inevitable death by thinking of her children and mother as the big cat savaged her as helpless onlookers watched on.
But suddenly the Siberian tiger retreated, her life being saved by zoo visitors who distracted the beast by throwing large objects into its compound. The pictures of the Russian woman pinned down by the tiger went viral around the world. Now from her hospital bed the 44 year old doctor’s wife has revealed what flashed through her head as she got trapped in the cage while feeding the 16 year old animal called Taifun, or Typhoon – one of the largest big cats on the planet. The experienced keeper candidly admitted she probably forgot to lock a gate when entering the compound on 5 November, allowing the tiger to pounce.
She also revealed how – staring death in the face – her surprising initial instinct was to try to talk with the tiger, to reason with it. ‘In a few moments I saw the tiger, standing half of metre from me,’ she said. ‘He approached very quietly, I did not expect this and had no time to react – let alone run away. ‘At first I tried to speak to him – like, ‘Go away’, or ‘Let me go’. I hoped that he would retreat.’ She soon realised she was mistaken.
‘I was like in a dream, and did not fully realise what was going on. Taifun pushed me down on the ground. ‘He was not growling, he was not furious, he just bit me, gnawing my hands.’ She played for time and tried to minimise the pain, offering him her limbs to prevent the cat going for her jugular. ‘I put my elbows and hands in his jaws, so he wouldn’t touch my head and neck. When the tiger slightly weakened its grip, I had a hope. ‘I tried to turn or crawl away, but he again fell on top of me with all his weight.
‘I don’t know if he was playing or not. It was agonising.’ She was vaguely aware that zoo visitors were watching her battle with the tiger, and willing her survival. ‘Someone shouted for me to grab a stick (to hit the tiger). But I knew no stick could save me from this predator. ‘I couldn’t respond. I knew I couldn’t waste my strength talking. I needed to concentrate as much as possible to try somehow to control the predator’s every movement .