A 36-year-old model was mauled by a leopard Tuesday during a photoshoot in Germany.
The woman, identified as Jessica Leidolph, had voluntarily entered the enclosure of two leopards at a retirement home for show animals located in a private property in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Leidolph, who described herself as an animal lover, suffered serious head injuries inside the enclosure, FBC News reported.
"It [the leopard] was constantly biting my cheek, my ear, my head," she told Bild.
Leidolph was airlifted to a hospital following the incident, and underwent an operation which was successful. However, the model will be left with scars from the attack, local media reported.
Earlier, there were reports that the leopards escaped from the cage and were on the loose. However, Burgenland District spokesperson Steven Muller-Uhrig later clarified those were false reports.
"The animal never broke out. There is currently no danger to the population," Muller-Uhrig said, adding that an investigation is underway into the incident. It remains unclear who had arranged the photoshoot or who was filming Leidolph.
The property owner has been identified as Birgit Stache, 48. Approximately 135 animals reside in the facility, which were mostly booked for photoshoots. Local media reported Troja and another leopard named Paris had once been part of an advert for Panasonic, before they were moved to the retirement home.
Authorities reportedly said they are investigating the animal owner on suspicion of negligent bodily harm. A public health officer also visited the compound Wednesday to check whether the animals were adequately kept and if the facility met regulatory standards. The state of Saxony-Anhalt allows people to keep big cats "under certain conditions."
According to the Associated Press, the animal handler has owned the leopards since 2019. He worked for 20 years as an animal trainer for circuses and amusement parks. The animal handler's identity has not been revealed.
The police are investigating who else was present at the photoshoot and what safety precautions were taken.