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AFRICAN SAFARI DREAM SENDED WITH A LION ATTACK; Exclusive Tourist feared she was going to die.

Byline: By Jenny Morrison

A TOURIST has told how she thought she was going to die when a lion attacked her.

The beast sank its teeth into Laura Baxter's neck and then her thigh before she escaped.

Doctors say the 25-year-old, from Edinburgh, is lucky to be alive as the deep bite wound on her neck was just millimetres from her jugular vein.

Laura, who had travelled to Africa with friends for an eight-week safari holiday, encountered the lion while staying at a campsite in Namibia.

The site owner told them he kept a fully trained lion in his garden and asked Laura and her friends if they would like to "walk with him".

She said: "We thought it was too good a chance to miss.

"When we saw the lion, we felt exhilarated to be so close to it.

"It looked enormous even though it was quite young and didn't have a mane yet.

"The sound of its huge paws padding over the sand was thrilling and I couldn't take my eyes of it.

"But when it glared over at me with its amber eyes, I sensed I was in trouble.

"It didn't charge towards me, it justambled over. "The next thing I knew, its paws wereup on my shoulders. The owner shouted at me to push it off but I am only 5ft 2in and just crumbled under the weight.

"As it lay on top of me, the lion opened its jaws and put its teeth into my neck.

"I could feel the skin being pierced and felt a trickle of blood.

"I really thought I was going to die but at the same time I remember telling myself not to panic and just to keep still.

"The lion owner was trying to prise its jaws open but it wouldn't budge. The next thing I knew, I heard a shot.

"The lion jumped off me and just walked off.

As Laura's friends rushed to tend to her, she saw the lion owner's wife carrying a stun gun she had fired.

Laura, who works for the Inland Revenue in Edinburgh, struggled to get to her feet.

But she said her getting up only reignited the animal's curiosity and it pounced on her for a second time - clamping its jaws on her thigh.

The lion's owner again fired a shot at the lion, before the creature was guided back into its cage.

As well as puncture wounds from the lion's teeth on either side of her thigh, a strip of skin had been scraped off her shin.

Her friends took her to a nearby hospital where doctors treated her wounds with more than 20 stitches.

They also gave her antibiotics and five painful local anaesthetics before scraping away the pus from wounds.

Laura said: "The doctors told me I was very lucky to be alive.

"He said there were not many people who could say they had been attacked by a lion and survived.

"And he said that while the wounds may not have been particularly large, they were deep enough to have done serious damage."

She added: "At the time, I was in shock and couldn't believe what had happened.

"I can't believe we were so naive to think it was safe to go walking with a lion.

"We presumed it was something that people did all the time but looking back I realise it wasn't perhaps the best idea.

"Because the attack happened out in the middle of nowhere we had to go back to the campsite with the lion's owner.

"He took us to his house and as his wife made us a cup of tea, he told us about how he trained the lion for adverts.

"He said he also had a leopard and asked us if we would like to see that but there was no way we were going to see any of his other animals.

"We didn't report what happened to the police, we were just glad to get away from Namibia and come home.

"When I tell people what happened, I am quite proud to say that I have been attacked by lion - but I know I am lucky to be alive

CAPTION(S):

SCARE: Laura; shows the scar from the attack
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 3, 2005
Words:710
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