Back a few years ago (Sept. 27, 2008, apparently), Mom and I went for a drive up on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. On a sudden whim, I decided to surprise Mom with a trip through the "safari park" near Montebello. Neither of us had been through one before. This one has Canadian animals like Elk and deer. We stopped in at the park store and bought carrots to give to the animals and went on our way into the park.
Never having been in one of these places, I didn't know that (although they didn't tell you not to) it isn't a good idea to roll your windows down all the way. Since none of the animals are the sort that would be likely to rip our throats out or disembowel us if we opened the windows, we figured it was safe to do so. Safe but not necessarily a good idea. As we drove into the first paddock, we were surrounded by Elk, females and young ones. They immediately started sticking their entire heads into the car and grabbing the carrots out of our hands. While I was busy fending off the two with their heads in my window, Mon was busy with another. Meanwhile, a 4th stuck its head in and grabbed the second carrot bag that was on the floor of the car on the passenger side. When it did so, it pulled Mom's purse out, too.
After tossing both about some in order to get carrots, and being unsuccessful, it walked away. I had wound up both windows and when it was apparent to the Elk that the kitchen was closed, they all wandered away. Now... I KNOW that you don't get out of your car in these places. I KNOW you don't dick around with wild animals thinking they are "cute". Knowing this and actually heeding this are two different things. With the herd off a good 100 yards, I decided that I could safely get out, run around the car, grab the carrots and my Mom's purse and get in the car without any problems.
So that's what I did. I got around the car, picked up the bag and purse and turned to go back around the front of the car... and found myself face-to-face with a very large female Elk. I think back on it and, quite apart from not getting out of the car in the first place, there were several options which could I have chosen and avoided what happened next. Mrs. Elk and I stood looking at each other for a few seconds and then she reared up on her hind legs (looming about 7 feet above me when she did so) and started battering me with her hooves. The first few blows connected with my head and to save my face, I put my hands up to cover it. Then my hands took some blows. I managed to turn my back on her, whereupon she got my back and ribs and as I lay on the ground, she pawed my legs severely. As Elks, like deer, have two sharp hooves, she left bruises and scraped all over my back, thighs, and calves. I thought she was going to kill me. If she had been a he, she probably would have. She finally walked away, probably partly because I was now lying flat on my face and partially because I was bellowing for help.
It could have been worse. My mother, then in her early 80s, was trying to get out of the car to help me. Luckily, she got confused and couldn't figure out how to get out of the car... Thank GOD!
I was able to get back into the driver's seat but then realized that I couldn't drive, partially because I felt like I was going to pass out and partly because my hands were so damaged. I got out again, managed to hustle my mother into the driver's seat and me back into the passenger seat and we went back to the park entrance where they called an ambulance for me.
I was COVERED in blood which looked worse than the damage that the blood came from, a tiny contusion on my forehead that needed one stitch and a little glue. My legs and back and ribs were badly bruised and scraped and hurt like Hell but were not broken. The worst injuries were to my hands. My left middle finger was broken between the first and second knuckle. The right middle finger was broken in the middle of the palm area. and my right pinkie finger was nearly torn off and required 15 stitches in a 1 inch area from the first knuckle in the palm to the back of my hand.
I was certainly the talk of the Emergency room at the only hospital in the district, even more than the drunken man who had been shot by his equally drunken wife with a .22 who had been brought in just after me. I earned the title of Madame Wapiti from the orderly on duty (Wapiti being the Native word for Elk).
I was lucky, though. I could have been killed. I went home the same night and, despite having a splint on one hand and a half-cast on the other and having to work by typing with two fingers and moving the mouse with one hand and clicking the buttons with the other (my work requires me to work on the computer all day) I consider myself to be very lucky. I couldn't take time off because I had no paid time off left after using it in the Spring when I fell on the front stoop and injured my back.
I was too embarrassed to tell anyone but a few VERY close friends and even my family and work were told I was accidentally knocked down a flight of stairs while holding a glass bottle. I finally came clean with them in the New Year, nearly 6 months later.