German model Jessica Leidolph is lucky to be alive after being horrifically attacked by a leopard last month.
Leidolph, 36, was attacked on Aug. 24 by a leopard at a refuge for show animals during a photoshoot in the Wangen area of Germany, according to the German publication Bild.
The attack left her with severe facial injuries as well as extensive lacerations to her body. Leidolph spent two weeks in a clinic because of her injuries, and she now has three metal plates placed in the right side of her face.
“I can’t put any weight on my left arm. The swollen half of my face feels like after a dental operation. I practice with chopsticks so that I can eat properly again,” she told Bild of her injuries.
Though Leidolph narrowly avoided death in the attack, she pleaded to keep the leopard — a 16-year-old named Troja, or Troy, famous for having been featured in a Panasonic ad campaign for plasma screens — alive.
“It was unfortunate,” she told Bild. “[But] I am glad there was no request to euthanize the animal.”
Leidolph was given a safety briefing by Troy’s owner ahead of the shoot, and the animal was on a double leash, but the big cat charged the model suddenly while she was sitting by a tree.
Describing the attack, Leidolph said that it “happened really quickly.”
“If the leopard had caught my carotid artery, it would have been over,” she said. “When it happened, I thought, ‘It’s over now.’ I know that I was very lucky that I am still alive at all.”
Her doctors agreed. They told Bild that if the predator had bit Leidolph a second time, it might have torn her throat apart.
Leidolph is an outspoken supporter of animal rights and poses with animals in calendars and on YouTube to raise awareness and money to find them permanent homes.
She got really lucky.