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Botswana president grazed by cheetah's claw in 'freak accident'

April 29, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • Botswana President Ian Khama in his office in 2010.
Botswana President Ian Khama in his office in 2010. (Themba Hadebe / Associated…)

World leaders are used to taking swipes – but perhaps not quite so literally.

Botswana's president, Ian Khama, had to have two stitches after a captive cheetah clawed his face, leaving him with “minor injuries,” a government spokesman told reporters in the southern African country Monday.

The spokesman, Jeff Ramsay, assured the Sunday Standard that the president was not attacked, but merely suffered “a freak accident.”

Questions arose when Khama showed up in public recently with bruises and a bandage on his face, according to news reports. 

Ramsay told the Sunday Standard that the episode was so minor, officials initially saw no need to make a public statement.

Last week, Khama was visiting a menagerie of wild animals kept by Botswana's military and stopped to watch the cheetahs being fed, Ramsay told the Associated Press. A cheetah jumped up from behind a fence and swiped at Khama, he said. One of the animal's claws "grazed his face."

You may wonder: Why does Botswana's military have its own wild animal park?

Khama established the Botswana Defense Force Animal Awareness Park in the capital, Gaborone, to teach soldiers about animal behavior before they go after poachers who prey on rhinos and elephants, according to the Associated Press. The park is also open to the public.

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