A 9-year-old girl in Washington state is continuing to recover after she fought back against a cougar that attacked her in the woods near a campsite over the weekend, authorities said.
Lily Kryzhanivskyy was playing hide-and-seek with two other children attending a camp near Fruitland, Washington, on Saturday morning, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said. When Lily jumped out to surprise her friends, the cougar pounced.
Lily was rushed to a hospital, where she underwent surgery for multiple wounds to her head and upper body. She was released from the intensive care unit on Monday.
Her mother described Lily’s recovery so far as "amazing," WDFW officials said, and asked the agency to share that Lily wants people to know she was "very brave and tough" in the face of the cougar attack.
Lily’s aunt, Okasna Mantsevich, told FOX13 Seattle, that the child’s survival and recovery is "nothing short of a miracle" and is "amazing to watch."
"The pain that she’s in and not being able to sleep comfortably – she’s out there singing," Mantsevich said, adding that the family is "super proud" of the 9-year-old’s strength.
Wildlife officials said that Lily did nothing wrong, adding that the attack happened so quickly that there was nothing she could have done to prevent it.
"We are extremely thankful for this little girl’s resiliency and we're impressed with her spunk, in the face of this unfortunate encounter," said Capt. Mike Sprecher of the WDFW Police. "It happened fast and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly."
Meanwhile, the young male cougar was later killed at the scene. Tests conducted over the weekend determined the animal did not have rabies, wildlife officials said.
Cougar attacks on humans are rare, according to WDFW, with just two fatal attacks occurring in Washington state. In the past 100 years, the agency said there have been 19 cougar attacks on humans that resulted in injuries.
If an encounter with a cougar does occur, the agency advised against turning and running away, which it says can trigger a chase response, or playing dead.
Instead, the agency advises to make eye contact with the cougar and back away slowly, make yourself looks as big as possible, be assertive and yell or throw rocks or other items at the animal, and to fight back if the cougar attacks.