A group on an African safari got a closer look at the wildlife than they anticipated when a trio of cheetahs got curious about their SUV.
“We started to notice the cheetahs became curious of the vehicle,” Britton Hayes, one of the men on the safari, told Seattle’s KOMO News. “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.”
The first cheetah hopped up on the hood of the vehicle, and the group was largely focused on that big cat when a second leopard decided to check out the interior.
“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 the group’s guide with getting them through the encounter. They slowed their breathing down, didn’t make any sudden movements and generally avoided eye contact.
When the cheetahs eventually left, there was a lot of relief.
“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,” said Hayes.
Well, this doesn’t happen every day. No, really, it doesn’t.