A 10-year-old girl in Orlando, Florida, was attacked by an alligator that had every intention of dragging her away. But the quick-thinking child was able to repel the attack, deploying the skills she had learned at a nearby alligator park. Juliana Ossa was swimming in Lake Mary Jane Saturday afternoon in water that was about two feet deep when the 8-foot-9-inch-long gator latched onto her left knee.
Many, perhaps most people would have panicked under those circumstances, but not “Cool Hand Jules.” She had the presence of mind to recall the lessons she had learned at Orlando’s Gatorland, enabling her to pry the beast’s jaws open so she could make her escape.
Juliana reportedly sustained several puncture wounds to the back of her calf, knee, and lower thigh, and was treated by lifeguards on the scene and taken to a children’s hospital. She was treated with stitches to her leg and released.
“I was in the water and there was a mean nine-foot gator biting my leg,” Juliana told Inside Edition about the attack. “The alligator grabbed my leg, I tried hitting it to release me but it didn’t work.”
Juliana and four other members of her party were standing approximately 30 feet from the shore in a designated swimming area when she was bitten, according to officials.
The young girl told Inside Edition that she punched the alligator in the nose and then shoved two of her fingers into the animal’s nostrils to get it to open its mouth.
“I used what they taught me at Gatorland, so I put my two fingers up its nostrils and it couldn’t breath and had to breath from its mouth and then let my leg out,” she said. “The gator didn’t do anything because he was too busy biting my leg and too busy with his claws in the sand. He didn’t have any attack moves to take out my fingers.”
Ossa received stitches to her leg and is recovering.
Orlando Sentinel reports that the alligator was trapped after the incident, and that the park’s waterfront section will remain closed throughout this week for “an abundance of caution,” according to manager of Orange County Parks and Recreation Matt Suedmeyer.
The attack comes almost one year after 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed when an alligator pulled him into the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
According to the Florida Wildlife Commission, some gators in the region can grow to be 14 feet long and weigh more than 1,000 pounds.