Cheetah Scratches President of Botswana On Face

A cheetah has scratched the face of Botswana President Ian Khama, causing minor injuries.

A spokesman for President Khama, who is pictured above in a March 2013 visit to the White House, told The Associated Press the incident was “a freak accident, not an attack.”

Spokesperson Jeff Ramsay added that 60-year-old Khama was not hospitalized but received two stitches to his nose for the “minor wounds.”

The president was later asked about his injuries after he appeared at public meetings in southeast Botswana with a plaster adorning his nose.

The cheetah reportedly scratched the president while he visited the Botswana Defense Force barracks at Mogoditshane in Gaberone, the capital. The big cat, part of a menagerie kept by soldiers, became overexcited when Khama went to watch the cheetahs being fed early last week. As Ramsay said, “One of them got excited and jumped up at him.”

With Khama standing well over six feet tall, the cheetah’s claw reached over the enclosure fence and grazed the leader’s nose.

“The president was scratched a bit on the nose and elsewhere,” said Ramsay. “The claw basically grazed his face.”

Both the president and his aide was caught by surprise — hardly surprising given that cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world. They’re also a highly vulnerable species, with conservation groups reporting that little more than 7,000 adults remain in Africa and Iran.

The cheetah was housed at the Botswana Defense Force Animal Awareness Park. Coincidentally, the park was set up by President Khama in 1989 while he was a lieutenant general in command of Botswana’s armed forces.

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