A 10-year-old Florida girl fended off an alligator when it chomped onto her leg by ramming her fingers up the animal’s nose — a survival strategy she learned at a gator theme park — and prying the alligator's mouth open, state wildlife officials said.
Juliana Ossa told NBC’s Today show that she was scared when the nearly 9-foot alligator bit her left leg and wouldn’t let go as she was sitting down in shallow water at an Orlando lake Saturday. She said she first struck the alligator on the head, but the reptile didn’t loosen its grip. Then she remembered a life-saving technique she was taught at Gatorland.
"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," she said.
Juliana needed more than a dozen stitches for multiple puncture wounds but is otherwise doing OK, according to Today. The alligator was later euthanized, Florida Fish and Wildlife said.
The little girl said she thought the gator took her to be a "ginormous piece of chicken." She urged others to stay calm if they find themselves in a similar "alligator emergency."
"Do the same thing," she said. "Don’t be scared."