A cheetah jumped into a SUV full of tourists during an African Safari in the Serengeti in early March.
One of the passengers, Peter Heistein, filmed the bizarre moments during the the Grand Ruaha Safari.
KOMO NewsRadio anchor Elisa Jaffe’s son Britton Hayes told KOMO how the group encountered three cheetah brothers:
We started to notice the cheetahs became curious of the vehicle. 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.
Hayes said his group was focusing on a second cheetah that jumped on the hood of their SUV, when the first 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.
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 said the guide helped them through the ordeal:
Alex (my guide) kept me calm and made sure I never made eye contact nor startled the cheetah, allowing the animal to see that it could trust us.
Honestly, it was probably one of the scariest moments of my life while it was happening. I felt like I had to clear my mind of any thoughts because from everything you’re told about predators like that, they can sense fear and any sort of discomfort you’re feeling and they’ll react accordingly. I wanted to be as calm and as still as possible to avoid a bad outcome.
I was scared to death, but I’ve never felt more alive. The sheer tension of sitting in a vehicle thinking, “I’m going to die,” and then living. We just, everyone in the car just looked at each other, we paused for 10 seconds as the cheetahs walked away and we couldn’t believe that we got out of the situation, that it was real.