Jessica Leidolph was attacked by a leopard during a photo shoot. The 36-year-old model underwent surgery after suffering serious head wounds. But doctors said she will have scars for the rest of her life.
The attack happened last Tuesday at Seniorenresidenz fur Showtiere, a retirement shelter for show animals in Nebra, Germany. According to police, Leidolph willingly entered the cage with two leopards named Troja and Paris for her photo shoot.
Sometime during the photo shoot, Troja attacked the model and started to bite her face and head. Jessica Leidolph lost consciousness and was airlifted to the hospital. It is unclear what prompted the animal to attack in the first place.
“It repeatedly kept biting my cheek, ear, and head,” Leidolph recalled of the incident.
Leidolph was rushed into surgery and was able to make it out alive. But she will have some scars on her face for the rest of her life.
A report said that the animal broke out of its cage, but that was not true. The animal never escaped. Steven Muller-Uhrig, a spokesman for Burgenland District, where the animal shelter is based, said that the animals prove no threat to the public.
On her website, Jessica Leidolph called herself an animal rights activist. Many of her photos showed her posing with different types of animals. She said that she is happy to work with animals as long as the photo shoot doesn’t cause them any unneeded stress. She does not work with fur.
The model also cares for many animals including a horse, cats, birds, and pigeons at her home.
The shelter where the attack occurred is typically used by models for photo shoots. The center houses over 135 animals and the two leopards that attacked Leidolph were once used in an advertisement for Panasonic.
It is unclear why the photo shoot was taking place there and who was paying Leidolph to pose with these animals.
Police are investigating the attack and looking into the owner of the center to make sure that all the animals are well cared for. Birgit Stache, 48, is the owner of the animal retirement shelter and had been working with animals for over 20 years as a trainer for amusement parks and circuses. She had owned the leopard since 2019. She refused to make a comment to the media.
The owner is currently being investigated for suspicion of negligent bodily harm.
A member of the public health office visited the shelter to investigate whether the animals had a proper environment and if the shelter was meeting the regulatory standards. The officer didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, but the investigation is ongoing.