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.
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.
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.
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.
Please understand why barriers are put in place. Sending prayers to the family tonight. pic.twitter.com/2MPb8bXhwR
— Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (@ZooWildlife) March 10, 2019
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Make an example out of her by pressing charges: trespassing and inducing panic. PERIOD.
— Humble Your Wig (@Circa1978_) March 10, 2019
Protect the jaguar at all costs. I would ban the visitor from the park for life.
— Shelley (@wyomimi1) March 10, 2019
Lovely to see a twitter feed where everyone is agreed!!
— Nic B (@nikynakynu) March 10, 2019
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”.
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!
Related (Cat Man Chris & Big Cat Rescue) Video: Never Turn Your Back on BIG CATS!