The story of a 10-yer-old girl who escaped the jaws of a 9-foot-long alligator keeps getting better. The girl, speaking to reporters, has explained that she kept calm during the incident and used an escape tactic that she learned from a visit to Orlando’s Gatorland, a zoological attraction that educates visitors about the reptiles.
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The girl was swimming in Lake Mary Jane near Orlando when she was bitten on Saturday. She was near the bank, in water about two feet deep. The gator bit her leg below her knee.
As soon as she realized what had happened, she jammed her fingers into the gator’s nostrils, a tip she remembered from her visit to Gatorland. The alligator recoiled enough for her to pry open its jaws.
“I tried hitting it on its forehead to let me go,” Juliana said. “That didn’t work, so I thought of a plan they taught in Gatorland. The guy was wrestling the alligator with its mouth taped, and in this situation it was the other way around.”
“So I stuck my two fingers up its nose so it couldn’t breathe — it had to be from its mouth — and he opened it, so it let my leg out.”
“I was scared at first, but I knew what to do,”
Donald Aldarelli, a trainer at Gatorland, explained the tactic to WFTV.
“If you’re ever in that position where an alligator were to grab a hold of you, the nose, not the eyes, the nose is the spot you want to go for,” Aldarelli said. “To get an animal with the strongest bite on the planet to let go of you is a miracle. … I’m just happy that she heard it here. I’m happy that she remembered.”
The girl needed stitches, and was treated at a local hospital. A trapper brought in by Fish and Wildlife captured and euthanized the alligator.
The state reports only 388 alligator in Florida since 1948. 24 of those were fatal.