Woman Taking Selfie At Zoo Learns The Hard Way That Jaguars Aren’t Photo Props ~ Apologizes To Zoo

A woman visiting a zoo this past weekend decided she absolutely had to have a photo of one of its beautiful jaguars. The unnamed female jaguar resides at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park in Litchfield Park, Arizona. What this woman wanted though, was a selfie with the gorgeous animal. Apparently the distance between the safety barrier and enclosure proved too far. She thoughtlessly crossed over the barrier and neared the big cat.

Photo: @WWZAq

It was then that the jaguar reached through the bars and sunk it’s claws into the woman’s forearm. 

The unidentified 30-year-old woman screamed out in shock, terror and pain. Bystanders screamed as they witnessed the horror unfolding in front of them. One man, Adam Wilkerson, was also visiting the zoo and he bravely ran over to help.

“Without thinking, I had no idea what I was going to see, I just ran over there,” Wilkerson stated. “I saw the other girl up against the fence with her arm caught in the jaguar’s claws. I could see the claws in her actual flesh,” Wilkerson said.

Photo: @WWZAq

Luckily he knew better than to just yank the woman away from her captor. This would have caused the claws to easily rip through the flesh, making the situation even worse. As he was helping the woman not struggle against the cat, his mother joined the rescue. 

His mom pushed her water bottle through the cage fencing so the jaguar would become distracted. 

Fortunately, that caught the cats attention and she let go of the woman’s arm. 

When Adam saw the cats intense grip loosen, he noticed the cats claws were only hooked on her sweater. That’s when he make the split decision to pull her to safety. Zoo officials arrived at the scene and later posted this statement to their social media profiles. 

The woman was taken to the hospital where she was examined. Although she received a deep laceration on her left arm, her injury was not life-threatening. You can see her wound in the photo below. She may want to play the lotto with her luck–and donate the winnings to build larger barrier walls perhaps? 

For the animal lovers out there, the almost 5-year-old jaguar is doing absolutely fine. You can rest assured she’s okay because here’s a shot of her enjoying her new water bottle!  

Photo: Adam Wilkerson / heavy.com

In 2015, massive improvements and renovations were done to the jaguars enclosure.


In an interview the year prior, Park Director Mickey Ollson had explained the parks design and enclosure goals. See the full video HERE.

“Wildlife World has always tried in our 30-year history to put people as close to the animals as we possibly can,” Ollson said . “I think many times zoo architects and zoo directors forget what a thrill it is.”

Photo: @WWZAq

Now they want to remind guests in the park to “please understand why barriers are put in place”. It’s great and all that they tell people to be safe and listen to the rules, because how often is that the case?!

The saying “you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink”, comes to mind. 

Photo: @WWZAq

After this incident, in which there were no employees present who witnessed the attack, he added this tid-bit of interesting info.

Let me just preface this by reminding everyone of one very important fact. We were only 10 days into the month!!!

This is the second time this month the female jaguar has swiped at a visitor who crossed a barrier–and neither incident is the jaguar’s fault.  He assured people they would “never harm an animal based on human behavior,” he said.

Photo: @WWZAq ~ Credit: Marcella Smith

He went on to tell Huffpost the following:

“They are there for a good reason,” he said of the barriers. “Every time that you have an incident in a zoo, you’re going to double check it and meet with your staff try to figure out a way to stop that incident from happening again. But again, when people do not respect the barriers, there’s always a chance there might be a problem.”

But animal lovers and activists are glad for one thing in all the chaos. None of the fault will fall on the jaguar. The zoo has NO plans to euthanize the feline or impose any punishments. They’ve no reason to, because she was doing exactly what her natural instincts tell her to do. 

“At no time was the animal out of its enclosure,” the zoo tweeted.

Photo: @WWZAq; Credit ~ Lorenzo Fuentes

The woman at the center of the attack had some additional concerns as well. 

The woman said she was “not attacked by the jaguar and did not admit to crossing the barrier, but said she was unhappy that a video of the incident had become public”, CBS News reported. She said she was grateful to other zoo visitors who rescued her.

She then returned to the zoo on Sunday and apologized for the causing the episode.

The woman “feels horrible about the bad publicity the zoo is getting regarding the incident,” spokeswoman Kristy Morcum said, according to the station. Morcum said the woman has “admitted fault” in the attack. 

Photo: @WWZAq; Credit ~ Lorenzo Fuentes; Jaguar Fritz

The zoo also reported that the barriers meet all the federal standards (that’s concerning in itself). They have moved the jaguar from that habitat in the meantime but don’t mention renovations again. 

Zoo followers on Twitter also had quite a bit to say.

Photo: @WWZAq ~ Credit: John Qoyawayma

We should all take this story as a SERIOUS REMINDER that BIG CATS are DANGEROUS!!

This goes whether they are in a zoo, an accredited sanctuary like Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL or inhumanly kept as “pets”.

Photo: @WWZAq

They are “wild” animals because they have WILD instincts. If presented with food each day by humans approaching their habitat, what do you think they expect when a human comes near them?! Let’s just hope the zoo decides to take a more active approach to keeping their residents AND visitors safe in the future. 

On the zoo’s social media pages, you can find every one of these photos. I would suggest those that just can’t help themselves from breaking the rules safely view the animals this way. It could save your life.

Just look how gorgeous these shots are, all captured with no injuries!

Photo: @WWZAq; Credit ~ Brittney Powers
Photo: @WWZAq
Photo: @WWZAq; Credit ~ Brittney Powers
Photo: @WWZAq ~ Credit: Nicki Miller

Related (Cat Man Chris & Big Cat Rescue) Video: Never Turn Your Back on BIG CATS!

Related Story: Abandoned Baby Bobcat Kitten RIGHTLY Raised By Rescuers To Hate Humans

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  1. Big Cats are majestic creatures and we should be careful around them. And it is very important to protect them. Keeping them captured and in inhuman condition is not nice. Also keeping them in small cages is not nice.

  2. I’m glad to hear the zoo will not do any harm to the jaguar. Also, I’m glad to hear the woman apologized and admitted to her mistake.

  3. Not everyone respects wild animals and the space needed for safety. I like that it was mentioned that all the pictures shown were taken in a safe manner. The pictures are beautiful but I’m not sure if they might give the impression that anyone could take them. I’m very glad that the Cat will not have any action taken and the woman confirmed wrongdoing.

  4. She is a grown up adult woman. The BARRIERS are there for this reason: to keep people from getting too close to a WILD animal, which could reach out and grab you! She should be fined for crossing the damn barrier. It is not the jaguar’s fault that she was careless and selfish, just to get a selfie!

  5. “But-but… it’s a cute, fluffy kitty cat!”

    COLE is a cute, fluffy kitty cat*. A JAGUAR certainly is NOT.

    I think zoos should start designing enclosures with the idea of keeping stupid people OUT of the enclosures, rather than worrying as much about keeping the animals IN.

    * = For the record, I think Marmalade, Zig Zag and Jugg are all cute, too. But Cole with his longer coat actually qualifies as fluffy.

  6. “Let’s just hope the zoo decides to take a more active approach to keeping their residents AND visitors safe in the future.”

    Excuse? This article just finished establishing that the zoo did everything it was supposed to do, and I agree with that assertion. It had barriers that met the required standards, and surely provided adequate instruction to zoo visitors (via signage or otherwise) to NOT cross the barriers. Visitors who are too brain-dead to follow simple rules are the only problem here, not the zoo or its policies. They are the selfish, short-sighted ones who go out of their way to cause these incidents that inconvenience, endanger, and ruin the experience for everyone else who is competent enough to function in a society. If anything, it should be the zoo’s mandatory policy to take legal action against them for violating rules and creating scenarios that put themselves, the animals, the employees, and the other patrons at serious risk of injury or death.

    What if the passerby who risked his own safety to aid her was injured or worse in the process? What if more people got hurt? Was she planning on paying out those potential medical bills or funeral costs? And if the worst had happened, how did she plan on compensating the families of those involved for the loss of life? It would likely end up running through the zoo’s insurance, but that’s still irritating as the zoo wouldn’t have been at fault. It’s great that she eventually acknowledged publicly that it’s entirely HER fault that this happened, but fuck that woman and everyone who is like her. It’s not like she’s a child, who is “stupid” by default as their brains aren’t developed enough to necessarily resist impulse decisions or grasp the gravity of what it means to live and die, though this behavior would still be equally unacceptable. Barring any potential mental disability that we may not be aware of that may have prompted her to make that decision, she’s an adult who should be held responsible for reckless choices.

    People like her deserve severe penalty. Seriously. (And getting a “scratch” isn’t punishment. It doesn’t deter. If I were a drunk driver and I hurt myself in an accident, the accident isn’t the punishment. The legal repercussions that follow are.) People like that are nothing but inconsiderate assholes who put everyone around them at risk without a thought for the consequences.

    • Disagree – my article did not establish the zoo did everything they could. If the zoo’s designers had been equally focused on keeping the animals and visitors safe, they’d have created an enclosure that didn’t allow for anyone to come near a dangerous animals area. Double fencing spaced 4-feet-apart that couldn’t be climbed comes to mind–an easy fix for even those people who decide they need a closer look. The fact that it is the 2nd time the jaguar swiped at someone this month should have told the zoo (who stated they are always learning from the possibly fatal incidents) that their enclosure is NOT safe for anyone. They are all to blame in my opinion. Except the jaguar =)

Written by JessiCAT

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