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Impala escapes cheetahs by leaping into tourists' car

By Chuck Thompson, CNN
July 12, 2013 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Quick-witted impala in South Africa evades cheetahs by leaping into an SUV full of tourists
  • Event captured on video by safari tourist
  • Tourist: "We saw the impala jump out of the bushes then someone started screaming, 'It is in the car!"

(CNN) -- A sharp-witted impala in South Africa's Kruger National Park evaded almost certain death when it came up with a novel escape plan.

In the midst of being hotly pursued by a pair of cheetahs, the impala leaped though the open window of an SUV filled with safari tourists.

The thrilling chase and bold escape were captured on video by a South African tourist in a companion vehicle.

"We started freaking out, going crazy; we couldn't believe it, we were absolutely dumbstruck," said 20-year-old Samantha Pittendrigh, who shot the video on July 5.

"All of a sudden we saw the impala jump out of the bushes and then someone started screaming, 'It is in the car! It is in the car!'

"People in other cars screamed 'Open the door! Open the door!'"

One of the passengers in the vehicle did just that.

The impala calmly exited the opposite side of the car within seconds of jumping into it.

The mystified cheetahs, meanwhile, abandoned the hunt as soon as their prey had bounded into the vehicle. They watched passively from the bushes as the crafty impala bolted to safety in the brush.

"My family are so jealous," said Pittendrigh. "In all the years my parents have been going to Kruger Park they have never seen anything like it and we do go regularly.

"It really is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and we managed to be in the right place at the right time."

Read more: School boy's wildlife-tracking website helps tourists spot big beasts

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