Weird Nature
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People Who Survived Wild Animal Attacks Tell Their Stories

Updated November 5, 2019 82.9k views12 items

Though wild animal attacks are often worst-case scenarios that run through our heads while hiking or camping, the fact is that you're more likely to get attacked by a cat or dog than any feral beast. Still, there are real people out there who have narrowly escaped death from the jaws of decidedly non-domesticated animals. These animal attack survivors - whether they intentionally put themselves in danger or were just minding their own business - all have a story to tell.

The following stories - told by people who survived animal attacks - are horrifying real-life tales that involve wild animals terrorizing humans. These animals weren't in captivity, they weren't pets, and they absolutely could have been killers.

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  • A Tourist Faced A 450-Pound Alligator In Florida

    When James Morrow jumped out of his canoe to go snorkeling in Juniper Creek, FL, he didn't know he was swimming directly above a 450-pound alligator. Here's what happened when the alligator attacked, according to Morrow: "I think my head was so far down his mouth that I touched his taste buds. When he tasted me, I think that's why he let me go."

    Though Morrow could joke about it after the attack, he ended up suffering several head wounds and a punctured lung from the alligator. In the end, he survived because of his snorkel mask, which took most of the damage from the gator's teeth.

  • A Kayaker Fought Off A River Otter With Her Paddle

    Photo: IOSF1957 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    When 77-year-old Sue Spector went kayaking in Florida on a peaceful afternoon, she found herself face to face with a potentially rabid river otter. Paddling down the Braden River in a sizable group, Spector was the unlucky one chosen by the otter as it climbed into her kayak and jumped on her. According to Spector:

    I took my paddle, and I tried to get him off of me, and he wouldn't let go, and I kept screaming, I kept beating him with a paddle. When you're [in the middle of] it, you don't have a lot of thought except you hope you survive.

    In the struggle, the otter bit and scratched at Spector's face and head. The kayak flipped, tossing her in the water as she continued to fight off the animal. The otter eventually swam away after Spector's husband started swinging at the animal with his paddle, but Spector still needed stitches and rabies treatment for her injuries. 

  • A Kenyan Farmer Bit A Python That Dragged Him Up A Tree

    Ben Nyaumbe is a farmer from Kenya. He was out one day, tending livestock when this happened:

    I stepped on a spongy thing on the ground, and suddenly my leg was entangled with the body of a huge python. It waggled its ragged and scary tail on my mouth. I had to bite it as I struggled, one hand incapacitated.

    The snake was able to drag Nyaumbe up a tree. When the snake eased it's grip just enough, Nyaumbe took out his cell phone and called for help. Eventually, rescuers arrived, and both Nyaumbe and the snake "came down, landing with a thud." He was a bit bruised but otherwise okay. The snake, however, later escaped. 

  • A Hunting Guide Was Mauled By A Polar Bear In Canada

    Kootoo Shaw is an experienced hunting guide from Nunavut, Canada. He came face to face with a polar bear when it entered his campsite at four in the morning. Not many people face a polar bear and survive, but Shaw did. He said this about the attack:

    I thought I was going to die; I thought I was going to be gone. He had his claws under my neck for a while, I could hear his breathing, then he let his claws off, and he was still jumping on top me, up and down four times.

    It took 300 stitches to reattach Shaw's scalp, but he was able to recover from the attack, which also included bites and scratches to his back and arms.