An alligator in Florida over the weekend picked the wrong person to attack — a quick-thinking 10-year-old girl who knew to stick her fingers up the gator’s nose.
Juliana Ossa was sitting in shallow water in an Orlando park lake when an alligator nearly 9 feet long bit her on the leg.
As the alligator sunk its teeth in, she smacked the alligator on the forehead to get it to release its grip. But it wouldn’t let go. Then she remembered the words she learned on a trip to Gatorland.
“So I put my two fingers up its nostrils so it had to breathe from its mouth, and it let my leg out,” she told News 6 in Orlando.
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Authorities said Juliana was in a designated swim area about 30 feet from the shore with about a dozen people around her when the attack happened.
“The lifeguard said that they heard the scream, and then they saw the child jumping and running,” Matt Suedmeyer, manager of the Orange County Parks and Recreation Division, told News 6.
Juliana’s step-uncle pulled her out of the water. “When I got her to the shore I let her down and I saw how much blood was coming out of her leg, so I picked her back up and I walked her to the picnic table,” Steven Rodriguez told WESH in Orlando.
Paramedic Kevin Brito told the TV station Juliana was calm as they tended to her. “She was a tough little girl,” Brito told WESH. “She also commented that if something is going to attack her, she has to attack back.”
Gatorland applauded Juliana’s quick actions.
Tim Williams, dean of gator wrestling at Gatorland, was happy the incident didn’t end more seriously.
“She did exactly what anyone should do, and that’s fight,” Williams told WESH. “God bless her heart, we’re just so thankful.
“The fact that she pulled on the animal’s jaws probably was not going to get it apart, but the poking at it may have been enough to antagonize it to make it go, ‘Hey, I’m gonna get out of here.’”
Juliana is recovering at home from lacerations and puncture wounds to the front of her knee, back of her knee and lower thigh, local media reported.
Trappers caught the alligator and euthanized it, which is common after a gator bites someone, state fish and wildlife officials said.