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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 11:15 UK
Tiger attack survivor raises funds for big cats
Janet Coghlan
Janet Coghlan with Virgina McKenna at the launch of her Tiger J chocolates

A Derbyshire woman who survived a horrific tiger attack is now raising money for the animals.

Janet Coghlan was only 12 when she was mauled by a Bengal tigress while helping out at a zoo in Sunderland.

The attack, which made the national news, left her needing 250 stitches in her face and head.

But the incident didn't stop her from forming a lifelong affection for the big cats - and now she's started raising money to help protect them.

Janet, now 44 and living in Chesterfield, runs a catering school and has launched a range of chocolates to raise money for the Born Free Foundation.

The charity, founded by actress Virginia McKenna who starred in the famous film of the same name, helps protect endangered big cats around the world.

Janet Coghlan

Janet said: "We've lost thousands of tigers over the past decades because their habitats have been destroyed and they've been killed for their skins and bones.

"I can only raise a little bit of money but it might help towards their rescue or medication, or running the sanctuaries Born Free have."

The horror attack may have taken place more than 30 years ago but for Janet it helped spark a lifelong love for tigers.

She explained: "I've always been fascinated by them - probably even more so after the accident.

"I've been really lucky and never had any flashbacks or nightmares. It was dealt with really well at the time.

"I said I didn't want the tigress destroyed because I didn't think it was a vicious attack - she was just being herself and didn't do anything out of character.

"But sadly a few months later, she was destroyed."

Seaburn Zoo closed down shortly after the incident and Janet now had mixed feelings on how she'd feel about another close encounter with a tiger.

She said: "I've seen one in a zoo since then. I was hesitant but not really scared.

"But I'm not sure how I'd feel about seeing one in a safari!"

Janet's chocolate's, called Tiger J's, are available from her website and a variety of Derbyshire stockists.

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