A woman in Arizona is lucky to be alive after being attacked by a jaguar at the Wildlife World Zoo on March 9.
The unnamed woman, in her 30s, was at the zoo when she decided to take a selfie with the big cat. To get the perfect picture, she made an imprudent choice: she hopped the barrier separating her and the jaguar and approached the animal.
To the horror of witnesses, the female jaguar wasted no time in attacking.
She lept at the woman, seizing her arm with massive claws and penetrating deeply into her flesh. The woman began to scream, alerting other zoo visitors who saw the animal push her up against the fence of the enclosure.
One man, Adam Wilkerson, was enjoying the zoo with his family.
He heard the woman’s screams and ran over to help.
“Without thinking, I had no idea what I was going to see, I just ran over there,” he said. “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 he wanted to help, but was worried that he would make the situation worse if he attempted to pull the woman away.
Finally, his mother ran to the fence and shoved her water bottle through, hoping to distract the animal.
“When my mom put the water bottle through the gate, the jaguar let go of the girl,” said Wilkerson. “And we pulled the girl back and she collapsed.”
Zoo employees called 911, saying that the woman was in acute pain and that her arm was seriously damaged. She was admitted to the hospital but is expected to recover. She sustained deep scratches on her arm.
After the incident, Wildlife World Zoo issued a statement regarding the situation.
Many people were concerned that the jaguar would be euthanized but the zoo was quick to reassure them on Twitter.
“We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar,” read a tweet from the zoo. “She’s a wild animal and there were proper barriers in place to keep our guests safe- not a wild animal’s fault when barriers are crossed. Still sending prayers to her and her family.”
The woman has since apologized to the zoo and expressed regret for her actions, saying she is sorry that the zoo has received negative attention on the internet because of her decision.
Tensions were high after a 2016 incident at the Cleveland Zoo where a gorilla named Harambe was killed by keepers after a young boy fell into his enclosure.
The boy was unharmed, but the backlash was strong from all sides for the employees’ choice to kill the animal. Meanwhile, the zoo maintained that killing Harambe was the right choice to keep the child safe.
Jaguars are incredibly strong, predatory animals, so it’s no surprise that the one at the Arizona zoo responded strongly to a strange human trespasser.
Their name, in fact, comes from a word meaning, “the killer which overcomes its prey in a single bound.” Adult males can grow up to seven feet long and weigh as much as 200 pounds.
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