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10-year-old alligator bite victim says nose poke stopped attack

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- A 10-year-old girl who fended off an alligator that bit her leg while she swam at a Florida park is now recovering at home.

Juliana Ossa says she survived the attack because of advice she received at Gatorland. 

The incident unfolded just after 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Lake Mary Jane in Moss Park, CBS affiliate WKMG-TV reports.

Lifeguards say Ossa was wading waist-deep in water, about 30 feet from shore, when an 8-foot-9-inch alligator clamped down on her leg. The young girl said she tried hitting the reptile to make it release her leg, but it didn't work. And then, all of a sudden, she remembered what she learned at Gatorland -- how sensitive the animal's nose is.

"I thought about what they taught me at Gatorland," Ossa told WKMG. "So I put my two fingers up its nostrils so it had to breathe from its mouth and it let my leg out."  

A witness then grabbed Ossa and dragged her to shore. Lifeguards treated the young girl's puncture wounds -- located on the front of her knee and the back of her lower thigh -- before paramedics transported her to a hospital. 

Authorities captured and killed the alligator following the attack, which according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is common practice. 

The beach will remain closed to the public until further notice. 

A preliminary investigation revealed a lifeguard was on duty when the alligator attacked Ossa. Signs were posted around the swimming area warning park-goers about wildlife in the area. 

An 8-foot-9-inch gator was caught after it attacked a young girl at Moss Park in Orange County, Fla. George Walrath Alligator Services and Processing

After learning about the incident, Gatorland responded on Twitter, wishing Juliana a speedy recovery and sharing more safety tips.

According to the wildlife commission, there have been 388 alligator bites on people in Florida since 1948, including 24 fatalities.

Park officials say this was not the first biting incident to happen there; other alligator attacks took place at the park about six years ago. 

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