U.S. NEWS

Woman Attacked By Zoo's Jaguar Apologizes For Crossing Barricade For Photo

She denied climbing over the barrier at Arizona's Wildlife World Zoo but said she was "in the wrong" for leaning over it.

An Arizona woman who was attacked by a zoo’s jaguar over the weekend has apologized and admitted she breached a safety barrier to snap a photo.

The woman, who only wanted to be identified by her first name Leanne, told CBS News that she leaned over the barrier at Lichfield Park’s Wildlife World Zoo on Saturday, but she denied she climbed over it as the zoo has said.

“I was never in the enclosure. I never passed the barrier, but I do admit to leaning over the barrier,” she told the news network.

An Arizona woman who was attacked by a zoo's jaguar has apologized, saying she improperly leaned over the safety barrier for
An Arizona woman who was attacked by a zoo's jaguar has apologized, saying she improperly leaned over the safety barrier for a photo.

The woman sustained injuries that were not life-threatening to her arm after the big cat latched onto her through a fence. A fellow park goer said his mom got the cat to release its painful grip by distracting the animal with a plastic water bottle.

Mickey Ollson, the director of Wildlife World Zoo, told ABC 15 that the jaguar won’t be harmed because of “human behavior.” He added that this wasn’t the first time that the animal has injured a guest who got too close, however.

It’s not clear whether the park plans to re-evaluate the barrier around the exhibit, which has been described as a 3-foot wall. Leanne hopes that they will.

The woman has since urged the zoo to move the jaguar exhibit further back from the safety barrier to prevent future injuries.
The woman has since urged the zoo to move the jaguar exhibit further back from the safety barrier to prevent future injuries.

“I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier, but I do think the zoo should look into moving their fence back,” she told CBS News. “I’m not the first, and if they don’t move the fence, I’m probably not going to be the last.”

The zoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, also urged the zoo and other parks to err on the side of caution when it comes to separating the animals from people.

“When various types of exhibitors promote all sorts of close encounters with wildlife, people get the mistaken idea that wild animals are approachable,” she said in a statement. “Throw in a healthy dose of poor judgment, and incidents like this are bound to happen. We urge the zoological community exhibitors to set a higher standard to protect people and to respect wildlife from a safe distance by doing away with public contact opportunities with wildlife of all species.”  

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