A 10-year-old girl is on the mend after she narrowly escaped from an alligator's clutches.
Juliana Ossa was sitting in a swim area at Lake Mary Jane in Orange County, Florida, when the gator grabbed hold of her leg with its jaws, according to WPIX. Juliana said that she tried hitting the nearly 9-foot-long creature to get it to release her, but that didn't work.
Juliana said she then remembered safety tips she learned at the nearby Gatorland alligator park.
"I used what they taught me at Gatorland, so I put my two fingers up its nostrils and it couldn't breathe and had to breathe from its mouth and then let my leg out," said the girl, according to Inside Edition. "The gator didn't do anything because he was too busy biting my leg and too busy with his claws in the sand. He didn't have any attack moves to take out my fingers."
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Juliana says she pried the reptile's mouth open to get her leg out, though some have doubted that a young girl could have forced open the jaws of a creature that can clamp down with 1,000 pounds of force, according to The New York Times.
Alligator bite force expert Gregory Erickson said that it was "very unlikely" the girl could have pulled the gator's mouth open. "If that alligator wanted to hold on, not much could have stopped it," said Erickson.
He added that it was more likely that the gator couldn't find a good angle to bite down on Juliana's leg, allowing her to free herself.
Either way, the girl's remarkable escape has made headlines across the U.S. Tim Williams of Gatorland called Juliana's bravery "incredible."
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"At 10 years old, to have that much wherewithal to do what she did is incredible," Williams said. "We are so proud of her that she got out of there with as little damage as she got."
"To get an animal with the strongest bite on the planet to let go of you is a miracle," said Gatorland spokesman Donald Aldarelli. "I'm just so happy that she heard it here."
The gator that attacked Juliana was later caught and killed by George Walrath, who runs a company for managing alligators in the area. Walrath said spring and early summer are the most active times for gators, noting he had caught between 25 and 35 of the animals this season already.
According to expert Jordan Munns, if you are being attacked by a gator, the best course of action is to poke the animal in the ear or eye while making as much noise as you can.
"Gators are afraid of humans," explained Munns. "If you are screaming and making as much scene as possible while doing these things, there is a good chance the alligator is going to [think]: 'I am used to eating things that don't fight back,' and let go of you."
Juliana is reported to be recovering after she got stitches for her injuries. Officials with the park have closed the waterfront for the week as a precaution to prevent further attacks.