Jaguar Claws Arizona Woman Who Climbed Zoo Barrier to Take a Selfie

By Reuters
March 10, 2019US News

A jaguar clawed an Arizona woman who climbed over a barrier to take a picture at the Wildlife World Zoo near Phoenix, officials said, and the zoo assured animal lovers the big cat would not be put down.

Cellphone video of the incident showed at least one gash on the woman’s left forearm as she writhed on the ground in pain on Saturday.

“I hear this young girl screaming: ‘Help, help, help’ … and the jaguar has clasped its claws outside the cage around her hand and into her flesh,” witness Adam Wilkerson told Fox 10 television.

Wilkerson’s mother distracted the jaguar by pushing a water bottle through the cage, and Wilkerson said he pulled the woman away. Cellphone video later showed the animal chewing on a plastic water bottle.

The identity of the woman, in her 30s, was being withheld, said Shawn Gilleland, a spokesman for Rural Metro Fire, the agency that responded to the incident.

She was taken to a hospital and treated, then later returned to the zoo to apologize, Gilleland said.

“She wanted to take a selfie or a picture of the animal, and she put her arm close enough to the cage that the cat was able to reach her,” Gilleland said.

The zoo’s statement said the female jaguar never left its enclosure, and that the incident was being fully investigated.

“We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar,” the zoo said on Twitter, responding to public concerns the animal might be put down.

The barrier surrounds the entire exhibit, creating a buffer of several feet from the enclosure, zoo spokeswoman Kristy Morcom told Fox 10.

“There is climbing involved. It’s not something that is easily done,” Morcom said. “These are wild animals and those barriers are put there for a reason.”

Jaguar Escapes Cage, Goes on Rampage

The incident recalls the case of a jaguar that escaped its enclosure at a zoo in Louisiana and went on a rampage.

Valerio, a 3-year-old jaguar, managed to get out of its cage at Louisiana’s Audubon Zoo and kill nine animals.

The big cat chewed through the stainless-steel netting, which formed the roof of its enclosure, squeezed through the small hole, and got free to roam the zoo grounds.

Once free, Valerio followed jaguar instinct, killing as much food as possible while he had the chance.

The big cat’s escape was noticed at 7:20 a.m. on Saturday when a zoo staff member heard sounds of animals in distress. Valerio was busy in the fox pen at that time, having already attacked an alpaca and an emu.

The Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.