Over the weekend, a woman was attacked by a Jaguar at the Wildlife World Zoo in Arizona. A 30-some-year-old woman climbed the barrier to get a selfie with the big cat. Once she got close, he reached through the bars and grabbed onto her arm.
Two bystanders, Adam Wilkerson and his mother Michele Flores, heard the woman screaming and decided to help.
Wilkerson said as they got closer that the claws were retracted outside of the cage… “I could see the claws in her actual flesh.” At this point, Flores shoved her water bottle into the enclosure to distract the Jaguar. “She took her one paw off and grabbed the bottle with her mouth, but her other paw was stuck on the lady’s shirt,” said Flores. They were then able to rip her shirt free and the woman collapsed to the ground after being pulled to safety.
At her request, paramedics were called, and she was taken to the hospital where she received stitches.
The woman returned to the zoo the next day and met with the owner. According to the zoo’s spokeswoman, Kristy Morcum, the victim apologized for her actions and the negative attention it had brought to the zoo.
The female jaguar involved in the attack is no stranger to this kind of incident. She scratched another person who chose to cross the barrier last year. The Humane Society of the United States made a statement saying that more needed to “set a higher standard to protect people and to respect wildlife from a safe distance.”
The president of the Wildlife World Zoo, Mickey Ollson said, “There’s no way to fix people crossing barriers. That happens occasionally. And we put substantial barriers there and if people cross them, they can get in trouble.”
Many were concerned that the jaguar may be put down, but the zoo put those fears to rest by saying they “promise” the jaguar will be safe. “She’s a wild animal and there were proper barriers in place to keep guests safe”.
We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar. She’s a wild animal and there were proper barriers in place to keep our guests safe- not a wild animals fault when barriers are crossed. Still sending prayers to her and her family.
— Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (@ZooWildlife) March 10, 2019