A teen whose face was ripped off by a tiger when she was a baby has opened up about the brutal bullying she suffered as a result.
Megan Krüger was just 18 months old when her parents — Dot, 42, and Casper, 46 — took her to a nature reserve in the Free State province of South Africa in June 2007.
The happy family was watching the giant cats in a fenced area with Casper excited to show his daughter the ferocious felines — although Dot recalls feeling “uneasy” at the size and proximity of them.
Disaster struck when the father and daughter crouched down near the fence to see the tigers better — and a lightning-fast attack left Megan, now 16, permanently disfigured.
“It happened so fast. I don’t think we even realized what was happening until the tiger had her,” Casper recalled to Media Drum.
The distraught dad said the tiger latched onto his toddler with its huge claws, pulling her through the wire fence and mauling her head and face.
Desperate to save his daughter, Casper sprung into action — but lost two of his own fingers in the process, according to Media Drum.
“I stuck my left hand in the animal’s mouth to save my little girl and managed to free her from its jaws,” he explained. “I grappled with the tiger with my bare hands for a few minutes before the animal let go.”
The father and daughter were rushed to the nearest hospital, where they received emergency treatment and were stabilized.
Little Megan, though, was transferred to a different hospital better equipped to treat her extensive injuries, and she spent two months in the ICU there.
“We were almost never home that whole time,” Dot said, with Casper admitting the attack haunts him still.
“After all, it’s your child, whom you’re responsible for,” the guilt-ridden father said. “You’re supposed to protect her, but an accident like that can happen so incredibly fast.”
However, Megan’s injuries have tragically continued to impact her daily life, with her parents “losing count” of how many surgeries she’s received to reconstruct her jaw.
“The bone in her lower jaw is still quite fragile, and it must be built up again,” her mom explained. “She doesn’t have bottom teeth because the bone is so fragile.”
Dot and Casper have raised their daughter in a “normal” way — as they did their younger daughter Kaylin — though school was a struggle for Megan due to cruel taunts over her injuries.
“I was bullied at school because of the way I look,” she admitted, adding that seventh grade was especially tough because she was teased a lot.
Things have gotten better for her, though.
“But I’m really happy at my high school, and everyone accepts me as I am,” she said. “I am a member of the debate team, and I compete in the Free State athletics championship every year for my school in the hammer throw event.”
Megan said she has come a long way since her middle school days and feels much more confident about her looks.
The brave teen even ventured into acting — even appearing in a short film broadcast on a local TV station.
“I never really considered acting before but when they asked me to audition, I decided to take the chance,” she said.
She admitted that she cried on day one and didn’t want to participate, but an actor she was working with encouraged her to keep going.
“After that first day, I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a fantastic experience,” she gushed. “It was really cool to be in a movie. I think I’d like to be in a full-length film one day.”
Megan said she doesn’t mind when people ask what happened to her face — and she’d rather people ask.
“What I look like doesn’t bother me at all,” she said. “I’ve looked like this my whole life. I’ve accepted it long ago and I love myself.”
Megan urged everyone to love themselves — regardless of how they look.
“Don’t see the negative,” she said simply. “See the positive and you’ll triumph.”