Jaguar attacks lady at Arizona Zoo, and the woman Apologizes

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The jaguar that attacked the woman on Saturday. “We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar,” the zoo said on Twitter after the attack.CreditCreditSocial Media/Reuters
  • March 11, 2019

A woman has apologized to officials at an Arizona zoo after she climbed over a barrier while trying to take a photo and was attacked by a jaguar.

About Jaguar
The jaguar (Panthera onca) is a wild cat species and the only extant member of the genus Panthera native to the Americas. The jaguar’s present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico in North America, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina in South America. Though there are single cats now living within the Western United States, the species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List; and its numbers are declining. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat.
Overall, the jaguar is the largest native cat species of the New World and the third largest in the world. This spotted cat closely resembles the leopard, but is usually larger and sturdier. It ranges across a variety of forested and open terrains, but its preferred habitat is tropical and subtropical moist broad leaf forest, swamps and wooded regions. The jaguar enjoys swimming and is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain. As a keystone species it plays an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating prey populations.
While international trade in jaguars or their body parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range remains large. Given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including those of the Maya and Aztec.

Jaguar Attacks Woman at Arizona Zoo, and the Woman Apologizes

About Attacks
Attack may refer to:

The incident occurred on Saturday at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium Safari Park in Litchfield Park, Ariz., where emergency workers responded around 6:40 p.m. and found “a female in her 30s with lacerations on her arm,” said Shawn Gilleland, a spokesman for the Rural/Metro Fire Department. One of the zoo’s female jaguars had dug its claws into the woman’s arm after she crossed the barrier, officials said.

Adam Wilkerson, who was at the zoo with his mother and two sons, said his mother successfully distracted the jaguar by shoving a water bottle into the cage. A video he took shows the woman writhing on the ground after the attack. She was treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital with “stable, non-life-threatening injuries,” Mr. Gilleland said.

Jaguar Attacks Woman at Arizona Zoo, and the Woman Apologizes

“This zoo in particular is a lot more open in terms of how close you can get to these animals,” said Mr. Wilkerson, describing the barrier as “a little bit above waist height” for him (he is 5-foot-9). He said what he witnessed was “more of a reach than a climb” by the woman who was injured, but he clarified that the barriers were safe for those who do not try to lean over them.

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The jaguar left lacerations in the woman’s arm, but her injuries were non-life-threatening.CreditReuters

“Common sense would say that that would probably not be a good idea,” he added. The zoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Zoo officials told local news outlets that the woman, who has not been publicly identified, later apologized for her actions.

On Twitter, many expressed concern for the jaguar, and some drew comparisons to a similar incident in 2016, when a 3-year-old boy slipped into an enclosure and was dragged by a gorilla named Harambe, resulting in the animal’s being shot and killed by zoo workers. Then, as in this case, many did not fault the animal, and Harambe’s death caused widespread outrage.

The Wildlife World Zoo assured a Twitter user who worried that the jaguar might be euthanized: “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 animal’s fault when barriers are crossed.”

Life-threatening and fatal incidents in recent years have highlighted the dangers that people will accept for a photo, especially a selfie. (It was not clear whether the woman in Arizona was trying to take a selfie.)

According to a 2018 study, 259 deaths from October 2011 to November 2017 were a result of attempted selfies, most while the person was engaging in risky behavior like standing on the slippery edge of a cliff. At Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains, for instance, four of the most recent deaths were the result of someone either posing for or taking a picture, and New York State has taken measures to make the area more safe and accessible to visitors.

Selfies aren’t inherently dangerous, the study concluded, but “the human behavior that accompanies selfies is dangerous. Individuals need to be educated regarding certain risky behaviors and risky places where selfies should not be taken.”

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