Woman who was injured while taking selfie with jaguar says zoo should move their fence back

The woman, in her 30s, advised the zoo to take extra security precautions in order to prevent similar accidents in the future


                            Woman who was injured while taking selfie with jaguar says zoo should move their fence back

The woman who climbed over a security barrier to take a selfie with a jaguar in an Arizona zoo and got attacked by the animal has spoken out for the first time after the harrowing incident which left her with a deep gash on her arm.

The woman, identified only as Leanne, said she has learned her lesson and feels lucky to be alive after the horrifying encounter with a black jaguar at the Wildlife World Zoo near Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday, according to a Daily Mail report. MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) had earlier reported that the attack took place on Saturday evening at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park. 



 

According to Leanne, when she saw the wild beast pressed up against the cage of its enclosure, she decided it was a great opportunity to "get some good pictures." She then leaned over the security barrier and positioned her camera in front of the animal when it reached out through the cage wire and swiped at her arm with its paw.

"The black jaguar was up against the fence we happened to be walking by and I said 'hey, let's get some good pictures'," Leanne told CBS News. "I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier, but I think the zoo should consider moving their fence back."

Leanne began crying out in excruciating pain, prompting passers-by to rush to her aid. One of the witnesses, named Adam Wilkerson, distracted the jaguar by pushing a water bottle into the enclosure so that Leanne could be rescued.



 

He documented the aftermath of the attack on his cellphone, showing the injured woman writing around in pain with blood pouring from her arm. Leanne was subsequently rushed to the hospital and treated for "stable, non-life threatening injuries" that required only stitches. 

"I never expected this," said Leanne. "I feel like we're all human, we make mistakes and I learned my lesson. Anybody can reach out. I'm not the first, and if they don't move the fence, I'm probably not going to be the last."

While speaking to local media outlets, Wilkerson said the zoo was "a lot more open" than others, thereby allowing enthusiasts to get a closer look at the animals. However, he maintained that the "waist-high" security barriers were sufficient to safeguard those who didn't try to lean over them. Speaking of Leanne's actions, he told the New York Times: "Common sense would say that would probably not be a good idea."



 

According to Wildlife World Zoo spokesperson Kristy Morcom, the three-feet-high fences which are set four feet away from the enclosure's barrier meet federal guidelines. "We are taking into consideration all aspects of safety pertaining to this exhibit as well as throughout the entire park because that is our biggest concern. People need to respect the barriers and understand they are put in place for the safety of everyone," she said.

While an investigation into the incident is underway, the jaguar has been temporarily moved from the enclosure for the time being. Addressing concerns over the jungle cat's wellbeing, MEAWW reported that the zoo released a statement on Twitter saying no harm would come to the animal as it wasn't her fault.



 

"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 the barriers are crossed. Still sending prayers to [Leanne] and her family," the statement read.

Mickey Olson, the zoo's director, said, "When people do not respect the barriers, there’s always a chance that there might be a problem. There’s no way to fix people crossing barriers. That happens occasionally. We put substantial barriers there, and if people cross them, they can get in trouble."