Getting jumped at by a Puma in the Bolivian jungle

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Your Say Wednesday

For those of you unfamiliar with our Your Say Wednesday posts, it’s fundamentally our way of interacting with you! Each Wednesday we share your most memorable, funny and craziest travel stories. Think you have a good one? Well please submit it to us via the contact page in our menu and it could be featured.

Volunteering at a Bolivian animal sanctuary I saw all kinds of monkey bites and scratches. It was common for backpackers to show off their fresh wounds at the end of each day. But no one had a story like this…

The weekly volunteer party got out of hand (the night before). Those with the appropriate big-animal training didn’t wake up or sign in to the morning’s meeting. I was there. Hungover, but there.  So, I agreed to help out with the puma (even though it normally requires months of training and animal integration/familiarity).

After an hour of trekking through the jungle, one of the team members and I reached the puma’s enclosure. The huge cat growled at me with a distinct sense of dislike. But that didn’t stop us from continuing our task. We entered the caged area, attached two ropes to the puma’s “collar” and begun to walk him through the jungle.  

The puma, completely unpleased with my intrusion, stepped forward hesitantly. After only a couple of minutes, he stopped, looked back at me and growled directly into my eyes. I watched helplessly as the puma leaped 10ft into the air towards me. In a split-second his powerful legs wrapped around my waist, arms wrapped around my throat and fangs pressed into my forehead. 

I heard my team member scream. But I couldn’t move. Completely still, I assumed the worst. Yet, somehow it felt completely natural. The circle of life. The scream faded as I began to lose consciousness. Then, all of a sudden, I was released. The animal let me go and stepped backwards. 

After swearing profusely, my team member yelled “stick you palm out towards him”. For some reason, I did.  The huge cat stepped back towards me and licked it. And, that was it. He knew that I knew, who was king of the jungle. After that we were friends. 


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