Woman who was attacked by jaguar says zoo should improve safety
Last week, a woman made headlines after she climbed into the jaguar enclosure at the Wildlife World Zoo near Phoenix, Arizona. Identified only as 'Leanne', the zoo-goer suffered a nasty gash to her arm after leaning over a barrier in order to "take a selfie" - but was otherwise lucky to escape without any serious wounds.
"The black jaguars was up against the fence and we happened to be walking by and we said, 'Hey let's get some good pictures,'" Leanne said in an interview with CBS News.
Rather than keeping her distance, however, Leanne decided to reach over the barrier - effectively placing herself inside the big cat's enclosure. Now, she's claiming that - while she knows she was in the wrong - her injuries are partially the zoo's responsibility, as their safety measures are not effective enough.In the interview, Leanne said that if changes aren't made, "I'm probably not going to be the last":
"I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier, but I do think that maybe the zoo should look into moving their fence back," she said. "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."
Indeed, Leanne is correct in saying she's not the only person to have suffered an injury at the zoo. Last year, a man named Jeff Allan sustained injuries from the same jaguar after he also leaned in to the enclosure - and he, too, blamed the zoo for putting their barriers too low down.
Wildlife Zoo director Mickey Ollson defended their enclosure set-up in a public statement on the matter.
"This is the second time the female jaguar has swiped at someone", he said, adding that the big cat would not be euthanised because it "was not the animal's fault and they would never harm an animal based on human behaviour".
Ollson then provided a very important warning to any zoo-goers to respect the barriers put in place:
"I think you observe the barriers - they are there for a good reason. We try to keep everyone safe, we have an excellent safety record here with all our animals. For the past 35 years, Wildlife World Zoo has served literally hundreds of thousands and over a million customers with very few injuries and usually those injuries result from misbehavior of the visitor or human error.
"Every time that you have an incident in a zoo, you're going to double check it and meet with your staff try to figure out a way to stop that incident from happening again - but again, when people do not respect the barriers, there's always a chance there might be a problem."
As well as the jaguar scratch, Leanne received some pretty damning attacks online for her actions. To these, she has responded by saying that she's only human.
"I never expected this. I feel like we're all human, we make mistakes and I learned my lesson," she said.
The zoo has reassured the public that the jaguar will not be put down or punished in any way.