A Russian zookeeper reveals what went through her mind the moment a 16-year-old male Siberian tiger pounced on her.
Nadezhda Srivastava, 44, was attacked when Typhoon snuck up behind her in the Kaliningrad Zoo in Russia on Nov. 5.
“He approached very quietly,” she told The Mirror. “I did not expect this and had no time to react — let alone run away.”
Srivastava believes she may have forgotten to lock a gate when entering the compound, which allowed Typhoon to sneak out of his pen.
The mother of three said Typhoon “was not growling, he was not furious, he just bit me, gnawing my hands.”
She told the outlet she placed her elbows and hands into the 392-lb. tiger’s mouth so he wouldn’t target her neck and puncture her jugular.
“At first I tried to speak to him — like, ‘Go away,’ or ‘Let me go,'” Srivastava said. “I hoped he would retreat.”
The zookeeper realized Typhoon wouldn’t stop his attack and said the experience was surreal.
“I was like in a dream, and did not fully realize what was going on,” she said.
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As the tiger attacked again and again, Srivastava admits she gave up, “I want this torture to end.”
She tried to focus on thoughts of her three children, two sons, and a daughter, and suddenly realized the tiger was not biting her.
Zoo guests had startled the tiger by throwing sticks and rocks into the enclosure, and so she seized the moment and escaped. “I gathered all my remaining strength like I was clenching a fist. I got up.”
“If it were not for the visitors of the zoo, I would no longer be alive,” she said.
The zoo responded to the incident by issuing a statement praising the guests who saved the keeper.
“The animal entered the enclosure when the keeper was there. The tiger attacked the human,” the statement read. “Visitors with their shouting, stones and other improvisation managed to distract the animal. This allowed the zoo employee to hide in a back room.”
Typhoon was sedated following the attack. The zoo said this was the first time the “elderly” tiger has acted out and shown aggression to any member of the zoo staff.