Photo: Elisa Jaffe KOMO

Safari Tour Has Heart-Stopping Scare as Cheetah Jumps Into the Back Seat

Wildlife News
by Katie Scott Aiton Mar 29, 2018

Having a predator jump into your car is quite possibly the worst thing you could imagine happening when you are on safari in Africa. But it is exactly what happened to this group of tourists who were on safari in Tanzania. An inquisitive cheetah jumped into the back of their SUV and started gnawing on the headrest of one of the chairs.

The video shown above was shot by photographer Peter Heistein, who managed to keep self-composed as to not startle the animal. Britton Hayes, the man shown in the video, also managed to remain calm enough throughout the encounter. Hayes spoke with Komo News about the ordeal.

“We started to notice the cheetahs became curious of the vehicle,” said Hayes. “But it was too late to drive quickly away or anything like that because you don’t want to startle the animals because that’s when things usually go wrong.”

Distracted by another brother cheetah who had jumped onto the hood of the SUV, Hayes remarked that the group had not noticed the other animal until it hopped into the back of the vehicle.

Instructed by guides to keep calm, breathe steady, and not to engage in eye contact to allow the animal to trust the humans, Hayes and other tourists managed to escape unharmed.

Hayes went on to say, “I was scared to death, but I’ve never felt more alive.”

The video was shared on social media by Hayes’s mother, Elisa Jaffe, who got quite a fright when she first watched it. “Give your mom a heart attack kid! No wonder he waited to tell me,” Jaffe joked with a news anchor at Komo News.

This is not the first occurrence of wild animals attacking vehicles during an organized tourist safari. In 2018 a pack of lions charged a car at West Midlands Safari Park in England and in 2016 a tourist was attacked and another killed by a tiger in a park in China.

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