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US girl survives rare attack by cougar while on camping trip

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A nine-year-old American girl survived a very rare attack from a cougar during a camping trip in the western United States, wildlife officials and family members said on Tuesday (May 31).

The cat attacked the girl, Lily Kryzhanivskyy, on Saturday morning while she was camping with her family in Washington state, her uncle Alex Mantsevich wrote on GoFundMe, where he was trying to raise money to cover her medical expenses.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said that "Lily, along with two other children, was playing hide-and-seek in the woods a short distance from the camp buildings. Lily jumped out to surprise her friends when the cougar suddenly attacked.".

Her uncle's photos on the website featured before and after shots of his niece, the latter a photo of her unconscious in a hospital bed with scrapes and bruises from the mauling clearly visible on her face.

"She was airlifted to the hospital with many different injuries to her upper body/face," Mr Mantsevich wrote.

The child underwent hours of surgery but was released from intensive care on Monday, the wildlife department said.

Since 1924, only 20 people have been attacked by cougars in the wilds of Washington state and two of them died, the state environmental protection agency said.

Officials said a probe would be carried out to try to understand the circumstances of this particular attack.

"Wild animals don't care to be around humans any more than we want to have close encounters with them," said Captain Mike Sprecher of the fish and wildlife department's police unit.

The body of the cougar - which was killed by someone present on the scene - was analysed for possible diseases, officials said.

"Tests completed over the weekend showed the animal did not have rabies," the department said.

Also known as pumas or mountain lions, cougars can weigh from 75 to 250 pounds (35kg to 115kg), according to bigcatrescue.org, an animal sanctuary.

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