Cheetah attack: 911 tape released

Reporter: Stephanie Dukes

Update, WED 10:30 AM: We are now hearing the frightening moments after a local cat handler was attacked by cheetahs. A person that witnessed the attack called 911.

One minute Judy Berens was inside an exhibit cage showing off her big cats inside a wild life sanctuary, and, the next minute, they were calling 911.

A witness told dispatch the big cats were distracted by a child bouncing a ball outside the cage when suddenly they pounced on Berens. 

"A wild animal preserve, and there's a woman in the cage, and they are attacking her, and there's nobody here to get them out?," says the caller.

According to a newly released report, a handler sprayed water on one of the cheetahs who had chomped down on Berens' leg, and, meanwhile, the caller had to describe the location of the sanctuary. 

Minutes later, the cheetah finally released Berens. "She's out of the cage. They got her out of the cage, and she's quite bloody."

The state report shows the cheetahs were properly contained and separated from the spectators. But, they say, Berens did one thing wrong, she should not have gone into that cage without another handler.

Reporter: Kara Kostanich

Previously: A Wellington woman, attacked by two cheetahs, is now recovering from home.

She talks to Fox 29 about why she doesn't blame the cats and why she wants to start training them again as early as Tuesday.

Fifty-nine-year-old Judy Berens talked with Fox 29 around 2:45 Monday afternoon. She decline an on-camera interview with us; although, she did agree to talk over the phone.

She is at her home which is adjacent to the wildlife sanctuary. She was released from Delray Medical Center late Monday afternoon.

According to Fish and Wild Life, she was being treated for lacerations and puncture wounds to her arms, legs and back. Berens was attacked by two cheetah's at Panther Ridge Conservation Center. Berens says it happened while she was giving a presentation with the animals during a fundraiser at the sanctuary Saturday evening.

FWC says the cheetahs were distracted by a ball outside the enclosure where the presentation was happening. We're told volunteers rescued Berens by spraying water on the cheetahs.

Berens says she has trained herself to stay cool in this type of dangerous situation with the cats. She says she is doing fine and hopes to be back out training with her animals Tuesday. Private group tours will resume as soon as things settle down at the sanctuary.

Fox 29 asked Berens how severe her injuries are, and she says she has been injured worse getting bucked off a horse.

David Hitzig with the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary knows the victim personally. He tells us she's doing well, and she doesn't think this is a big deal. But, Hitzig says, this is a big deal, and it probably change the way she deals with large animals. "When you're working with animals, you get somewhat complacent. You get into a routine. I think it's going to be an eye-opener for Judy to take a look at her protocol to make sure, in the future, something like this doesn't happen again."

Hitzig tells us the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary had a strict hands-off policy with large animals because of the level of danger.