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'Very Famous Cheetah' Attacks Zookeeper

She apparently detected the scent of giraffes on keeper at Columbus Zoo
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2021 7:41 AM CST

(Newser) – The Columbus Zoo describes Isabelle as an "incredibly well-trained" cheetah—but the instinct to attack was apparently too strong to resist after she encountered a zookeeper who works with giraffes and other hoofstock Thursday. The zoo says the keeper was evaluated at a hospital and released after being attacked by Isabelle during the cheetah's daily exercise in a behind-the-scenes yard, CNN reports. The 4-year-old cheetah's care team says she was "calm and purring" so they invited the keeper to come closer, but Isabelle, apparently detecting the scent of other animals, "crouched down and lunged" as the keeper approached.

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"Right now we’re just trying to iron out exactly what happened," Suzi Rapp, the zoo's vice president of animal programs, tells the Columbus Dispatch. "I can tell you the person is OK.” Rapp says this is the first such incident with "Izzy," who will now be placed in quarantine for 30 days to check for signs of illness. She says the cheetah is "an incredibly well-trained animal" who has long been very cooperative during ultrasounds and other medical procedures. Last year, Isabelle became the first cheetah ever to give birth to cubs born via in vitro fertilization. "Izzy, through leaps and bounds through the cheetah world, is a very famous cheetah," Rapp says (Read more cheetah stories.)

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