10-year-old Florida native Juliana Ossa singlehandedly fought off an alligator while it had her leg in its mouth. Yes, you read that right.
Ossa (4’7″) was swimming in a lake in Moss Park, Orlando when an 8’9″ alligator suddenly bit her leg. Yes, she was scared, but she wasn’t going down without a fight. First, she tried punching its forehead, but when that didn’t work she remembered a crucial lesson she had previously learned in Gatorland, a theme park dedicated to the giant reptile. Without missing a beat, Ossa stuck her fingers up that alligator’s nostrils, forcing it to open its mouth and let her leg go so that it could breathe. She managed to escape and was pulled to shore by her uncle, who quickly brought her to a children’s hospital. (Supposedly there was a lot of blood, but she’s doing much better now.)
At the hospital, she was reportedly treated for lacerations and puncture wounds in the back of her left knee and lower thigh. “She was a tough little girl,” said one of the paramedics who attended to her wounds. “She commented that if something is going to attack her, she has to attack back.”
While this little girl is undoubtedly a total badass, not everyone is convinced that her fighting back was the reason the gator let her go.
“If that alligator wanted to hold on, not much could have stopped it,” said Dr. Gregory M. Erickson, a professor of anatomy and paleobiology at Florida State University. He believes it was more likely that the alligator did not have a solid grip on Ossa’s leg and that’s why it let her go. Although this does not mean her fight was for nothing.
“The more fight a person puts up, it’s more likely that animals are not going to press the attack,” he then said as a follow-up.
The alligator that attacked Essa has since been euthanized. While there are roughly 1.3 million alligators in Florida, alligator attacks are pretty rare and there have only been 24 known deaths due to alligators since 1948. Still though, I don’t think I’ll be lining up to wrestle one anytime soon.