Seattle man survives close encounter with cheetah during African Safari

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A group on an African Safari got a bit closer than they wanted to a pack of cheetahs while in the Serengeti earlier this month.

KOMO NewsRadio anchor Elisa Jaffe’s son Britton Hayes was with a group watching three cheetah brothers on the hunt in the Gol Kopjes of the Serengeti when one of the younger brothers noticed their vehicle and came in for a close look.

“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.”

“This is not at all a common occurrence,” he added, but said they were prepared for the event.

Hayes said his group was focusing on a separate cheetah that had jumped on the hood of their SUV, when the other cheetah jumped in the back seat.

“One of the cheetahs hopped onto the hood and was sniffing around, so we were all focused on the cheetah on the hood that was looking around,” said Hayes. “While we were all watching the cheetah in the front, one of the brothers had flanked around the back and hopped in back of the vehicle to try and sniff us and make sure that we weren’t a threat.”

Hayes credits his guide for helping him through the ordeal.

“Alex (my guide) kept me calm and made sure I never made eye contact nor startled the cheetah,” Hayes said, “allowing the animal to see that it could trust us.”

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