However, as the world came to know from the graphic images that have appeared in various outlets, Violet was attacked by two cheetahs, who were supposedly tame animals.
Now, she is speaking out for the first time since the horrifying incident, which took place at Kragga Kamma Game Park, and she reveals that she is “quite traumatized”.
Violet, who tried to play dead as the two animals bit and clawed her head, stomach and legs, told Caters News Agency: “I just remember … something biting my head and dragging me down.”
The incident unraveled when Violet and her husband had a chance to pet two brother cheetahs, Mark and Monty. They took pictures with the cheetahs and were still in the petting area when one of the cats grabbed an 8-year-old girl by the leg.
She then tried to stop the attack, but when the girl ran to safety, both animals turned on her in a savage attack that lasted for more than three minutes before a guide pushed the animals back with a stick.
“We never for one moment thought they would attack,” she said, while her husband added, “They said they were extremely tame and one could stroke them.”
She continued: “It was, I think, a playful attack because though they are grown-ups, they think like children.”
However, her husband, who has attracted harsh criticism for continuing to take photos as Violet was being mauled, is hitting out at the Park’s managers and is furious that they were told the animals were safe.
“We’re very angry about what happened because we were told the situation was safe and it obviously wasn’t,” he added. “The park said they didn’t know what had caused the cheetahs to attack but they shouldn’t let tourists in unless they’re sure it is safe.”
Park manager Mike Cantor told the Port Elizabeth Herald newspaper that the park had never had any problems with the previously beloved cheetahs.
The petting facility was closed to the public while the park investigates the attack.
Violet, however, is trying to move on after the harrowing incident, which miraculously, she walked away with no life-threatening wounds.
“I was just sort of quite traumatized and I still am but you have to move on and think positive, you know, but I am on the mend,” she said.