“When they were tearing my flesh up, I felt pain that I did not know existed” - Zookeeper who survived a tiger attack tells her story
11 June, 2015
“When they were tearing my flesh up, I felt pain that I did not know existed” - Zookeeper who survived a tiger attack tells her story
“I saw my own upcoming brush with death in a dream “I saw a dream of there being a pool of blood at the tigers’ cage. Someone got attacked by them and I saw two men taking the victim somewhere, but I couldn’t see who it was. I went and told Zura (Zurab Gurielidze, the zoo’s director) about this dream. As you know, there were cases when some youngsters tried to get into the enclosure and approach the tigers, which
ended very badly. I was afraid of my dream being a warning of some upcoming tragedy, and I kept warning everyone at the zoo, especially the guards, to keep a close eye on the tigers and watch for anyone trying to get to them. As it turned out, I saw my own upcoming brush with death in a dream, yet did not recognize myself. It is as if it was predestined,” remembers Guliko, occasionally shifting what remains of her amputated right arm. “It is a good thing that I did not lose everything above the elbow; this means that I will be able to use my prosthetic with greater precision and care for my little ones” she says with a smile.

“The tigers tried to grab my dress. Fortunately, it didn’t tear, but I fell down. One of them grabbed my arm, the other sank claws into my leg, and the third tried to drag me to the cage. I attempted to get away from them, closer to the wall, using my free hand.”

Guliko Kontselidze-Chitadze is Tbilisi Zoo’s main caregiver and nurse, who just a few days ago miraculously survived a fierce attack by a bunch of tigers. She is my long-time friend and while I knew of her robust and unbreakable spirit, what I heard from her in the hogeotv.gespital ward has exceeded my wildest expectations. Everyone who comes to her offering condolences, she brushes off, saying that there is no use crying over spilt milk. I’ll have to learn living anew one-handed, she says. She has no ire towards the tigers; moreover, she is convinced that the “stupid things were just playing with her” and did not understand what they were doing – even though, as she was being taken away from the enclosure, most of the flesh on her right hand was missing.
So what happened on that tragic day? I asked her about the details and this is what she told me:
“It all started when I heard a child cry. A little girl was standing over the lions’ and tigers’ enclosure and crying, while her father was trying to calm her down. I’ll buy you a new one, he kept promising. Apparently, the girl dropped her toy and it fell through the lattice. I also tried to calm her down, saying that father will get her a new toy; however, it only served to make the girl cry more. The father, driven to desperation by her tears, decided to come down and get the toy. I immediately recalled my dream and, horrified, offered to enter the enclosure and get it myself instead. According to the rules, I was not supposed to go inside even if someone dropped a bunch of gold ingots down there; but unfortunately, I am childless, and love children very much, so I could not bear to hear this girl crying so bitterly.
I entered the enclosure, and, before tigers could come up from the distant corner of it, managed to scoop up the toy and throw it upwards, for the girl’s father to catch. However, it seems that I got carried away and did not notice getting too close to the tigers. They tried to grab my dress. Fortunately, it didn’t tear, but I fell down. One of them grabbed my arm, the other sank claws into my leg, and the third tried to drag me to the cage. I attempted to get away from them, closer to the wall, using my free hand. The girl’s father started yelling and tried to follow me inside, geotv.gebut I begged him not to, telling him instead to run to the bear enclosure and bring Vaniko the vet to help me. Vaniko came running, but by that time my right hand was almost gone. When they were tearing my flesh up, I felt pain that I did not know existed. You know how painful it is to get a splinter into your hand, and what happened to me felt as if I got millions of huge splinters lacerating my body… I remember picking up my almost completely flensed forearm and throwing it aside. I almost blacked out, but I still could hear what was going on around me. I cannot describe both physical and spiritual pain I felt at having these tigers tear up the arm that raised their mother, Salima. Fortunately, she was right there, and once she realized that her cubs were doing something bad to me, she rushed in, gave them a couple of hard swats with her paws and drove them away from me. Her actions have pretty much saved my life, since the tigers, caught up in their brutal game, would have dragged me into their cage and torn me to pieces.
There are rumors that I was attacked by the very tigers that I raised. Don’t believe that. All the tigers raised by me, including these cubs’ mother, are all grown up and simply adore me; one of them has a habit of hugging me and dozing off that way, like a housecat. I was never afraid of the tigers I raised and they never displayed any hostility towards me. Animals are very sensitive to mother-and-child relationships and never forget them.”
Guliko’s condition improves daily, but despite the doctors fawning over her, all she thinks about is returning to the zoo. A die-hard animal lover, who, for absence of her own children, considers the zoo her second home, tirelessly raising little pups, cubs, kits and chicks. Before I bid her farewell, she told me that she was constantly thinking about the little monkeys she cared for: Ewasa, Marta and the cunning Troa. Apparently, when their beloved nanny did not show up as usual, the primates refused their food. Only Malkhaz Chitadze, Guliko’s husband, managed to persuade them to eat, in a hope that his appearance will be followed by her return.
This is what Guliko is like: an assiduous woman with a heart of gold. One would be hard pressed to find a more loyal friend than her.

Print
Other Stories
Historic Petra fortress will host an electronic music festival
On August 10 the historic Petra fortress located in the village Thsikhidziri in Adjara will host GR –Fest - an open air electronic music festival.
From September Iakob Gogebashvili's "Deda Ena" will make a comeback in Georgian schools
This fall, at the beginning of the new academic year every first-grader will receive "Deda Ena" as a gift.
Georgian painter creating unique paper sculptures
Beso Kobakhidze, a painter from Ambrolauri, a city located in the western part of the country, has been creating unique paper sculptures for 8 years now.
Anti-occupation movement "Force is in Unity" patrolling in Davit Gareji
One of the leaders of the anti-occupation movement, Davit Katsarava, says that there is a calm situation in Davit Gareji for the time being,
23rd day of Anti-occupation rally, Interior Minister does plan to resign
Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia said that the dispersal of a rally near the parliament on June 20
President Putin falsifies History of Georgia
Following the II Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, Vladimir Putin met
“Дождь” news program accompanied by a bottle of Georgian wine
“Дождь”, Russian TV channel’s news program was accompanied by a bottle of Georgian wine as a show of solidarity for Georgia.
Khatia Buniatishvili and Guillaume Gallienne perform Georgian song “Suliko”
Khatia Buniatishvili made French actor Guillaume Gallienne and journalist Anne-Sophie Lapix perform an improvised Georgian dance
Tbilisi Pride held, demonstrators of two different rallies spend the night on Rustaveli Avenue
Anti-occupation demonstrators and opponents of Tbilisi Pride spent last night on Rustaveli Avenue.
What does the store “Georgian” offer tourists in Summer?
“Georgian”, a tourist store of “Biblusi” is popular not only with tourists but with everyone looking for a Georgian product.
Rustavi 2 TV Anchor Insults Putin, Government calls it a provocation
On July 7, Giorgi Gabunia, anchor of the PS news program on Rustavi 2 TV, used obscene terms against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Georgian Alexandre Zazarashvili wins The Voice Kids Ukraine
Georgian Alexandre Zazarashvili has won the fifth season of The Voice Kids Ukraine.
Part of ‘Fast and Furious 9’ to be filmed in Georgia
A 10-minute episode of ‘Fast and Furious 9’ will be filmed in Georgia.
Euronews: “Georgia goes green”
Euronews has recently published an episode of Focus about Kutaisi, second largest city in Georgia.
Georgian children idol Giorgi Gogichaishvili dies aged 51
Georgian actor and TV host Giorgi Gogichaishvili passed away yesterday.
 Bakery "Puri Guliani" - History of Georgian baking
Puri Guliani – this is what our ancestors called pastries that they earnestly created all over Georgia with a variety of fillings.
Russia is an occupier – Protest-themed birdhouses
Ramaz Grigalashvili from Khashuri, a town in the central part of Georgia has been building birdhouses for about 6 years.
Russian rugby club suspends Georgian rugby players contract
The Russian rugby club "Slava" suspended the contracts of two Georgian rugby players.
Young Georgian lost over 120 kilos in a year
A 20-year old Giorgi Bibilauri lost 120 kilos through a year intense workout.
Danish artist created illustrations on current events in Georgia
Livija Viksna is a Danish/Latvian illustrator based in Tbilisi.
Anita Rachvelishvili and Nino Katamadze join the rally
Georgian singer Nino Katamadze and mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili joined the peaceful rally on Rustaveli Avenue.
Georgian Alexandre Zazarashvili in the final round of The Voice Kids Ukraine
Georgian Alexandre Zazarashvili has made it to the final round of The Voice Kids Ukraine.
CNN- Georgia against Russian occupation, NOT against the Russian people
CNN has recently published an article inviting people to visit Georgia.
Zaza Pachulia and Guram Kashia invite their international friends to Georgia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree prohibiting Russian airlines from carrying Russian citizens to Georgia from July 8.
BBC: Putin says Georgia is not safe, Russian tourists disagree
BBC has recently published an article about the recent events taken place in Georgia.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
17.07.2019
18.07.2019
USD
1
USD
2.8608
2.8687
EUR
1
EUR
3.2107
3.2178
GBP
1
GBP
3.5551
3.5580
RUB
100
RUB
4.5529
4.5670
Other Stories
World famous British singer Jessie J has decided to wear clothes made by Anouki Areshidze, Georgian designer and wife of the mayor of Tbilisi.
Bassiani, one of the most popular underground clubs not only in Georgia but throughout Europe as well, has opened today
An amazing video made in Georgia by tourists from the Philippines have gone viral on the internet.
Over the recent two days May 12-13 Tbilisi city saw a peaceful protest rally in the center of the city.
Hundreds of people took to the main street Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi to protest the raid in Tbilisi’s popular night clubs.
Two bear cubs listed as endangered on the red list were handed over to Tbilisi Zoo,
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze and Deputy Tbilisi Mayor Ms. Sophio Khuntsaria have gifted a food stand
Pamela Anderson, famous Canadian American actress and model has appeared in the chic sunglasses by internationally acclaimed Georgian designer George Keburia.
A ski lift accident in Georgia’s eastern Gudauri resort,in particular at Sadzele 5 lift, has left 8 people with injuries.
The ski lift in Gudauri winter resort in Georgia has broke down in the aftermath of which several people have been injured.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.8687
EUR
1
EUR
3.2178
GBP
1
GBP
3.5580
RUB
100
RUB
4.5670
July 2019
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31