A model has been scarred for life after being attacked by a leopard during a photoshoot in Germany.
Jessica Leidolph, 36, who also works as an animal rights activist, was airlifted to a specialist clinic by a helicopter after the incident on Tuesday at a compound in the town of Nebra in eastern Germany.
The compound is used as a retirement home for show animals, and 16-year-old leopard Troja who lives there, attacked her during the photoshoot.
According to local media, Jessica entered the leopards’ enclosure at the ‘Seniorenresidenz fur Showtiere’ – which translates to ‘retirement home for show animals’ – when 16-year-old leopard Troja suddenly attacked her.
Jessica was airlifted to a specialist clinic by a helicopter after a leopard named Troja (pictured) on Tuesday at the ‘Seniorenresidenz fur Showtiere’ in the town of Nebra in eastern Germany
German police are now investigating the leopard attack, with a focus on the 48-year-old owner of the big cat, Birgit Stache, who is being investigated on suspicion of negligent bodily harm, the dpa news agency said.
They are also investigating who else was present at the photoshoot and what safety precautions were taken.
A public health officer visited the compound on Wednesday to check whether the animals were adequately kept and if the facility met regulatory standards.
The animal handler has owned leopard involved in the attack, and one other, since 2019 and worked for 20 years as an animal trainer for circuses and amusement parks.
Jessica, who was brought to the hospital with severely bleeding wounds and was immediately operated on, told Bild after the surgery: ‘It repeatedly kept biting my cheek, ear and head’
She also said that after she had lost consciousness the next thing she heard was the helicopter that airlifted her to the hospital
Troja lives in an enclosure at the ‘retirement home for show animals’ with another leopard named Paris
Troja and another leopard living in the enclosure named Paris, 18, had once featured in an advert for Panasonic, before they were moved to the 9,150 sq ft site in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Jessica, who was brought to the hospital with severely bleeding wounds and was immediately operated on, told Bild after the surgery: ‘It repeatedly kept biting my cheek, ear and head.’
She also said that after she had lost consciousness the next thing she heard was the helicopter that airlifted her to the hospital.
After local media incorrectly reported that the predator had escaped and was on the loose, Burgenland District spokesperson Steven Muller-Uhrig said: ‘The animal never broke out. There is currently no danger to the population.’
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.’
The authorities are considering taking away Stache’s license for the retirement home for show animals.