LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. (FOX 10) - A valley woman faces non-life threatening injuries after getting attacked by a jaguar at Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park.
Rural Metro officials confirmed a woman in her 30's was attempting to take a picture near a fence of the jaguar enclosure after crossing the barrier when the animal reached out and attacked her arm. The patient was then taken to the hospital and was treated for her injuries.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
We spoke to Adam Wilkerson, the man who took this video. Just to be clear, they helped this woman before shooting the video and waited for first responders to arrive.
"I hear this young girl screaming 'help, help, help' and without thinking, I just run over there. I see another girl with her up against the cage of the jaguar and the jaguar has clasped its claws outside of the cage around her hand and into her flesh," Wilkerson said.
"My mom thinks of how to distract the jaguar and she grabs her water bottle and she shoves it through the cage, right near where the jaguar is," Wilkerson went on to say. "The jaguar lets go of the girl somewhat because the claw catches on just her sweater. At that moment, I grabbed the girl around the torso and pulled her away from the cage and it unlatches from her claw. The jaguar just goes after the bottle.
That quick thinking from Wilkerson's mom may have just saved that woman's life.
Paramedics were called to the zoo and she was treated - no word yet on how that woman is doing, but we hope she is recovering just fine.
The Wildlife Word Zoo released the following statement regarding the incident:
"We regret to inform that this evening, before closing there was an incident reported involving a guest, who crossed over the barrier to get a photo, according to eyewitnesses. The visitor sustained non-life threatening injuries to their hand from one of our female jaguars. At the request of the family, paramedics were called. At no time was the animal out of its enclosure. The incident is being fully investigated."
Fox 10 spoke with Kristy Morcom, spokesperson for Wildlife World Zoo, about the incident. Morcom explained how the barriers around animal enclosures are put in place for the safety of both the guests and animals.
Morcom also said that at no point did the jaguar get out of its cage nor did the woman get inside - there were bars between them the whole time. The spokesperson said witnesses are giving varying accounts on if the woman had actually put her arm through the cage or just near it. That is still under investigation. But what is certain - she crossed the barrier.
According to the Morcom, the barrier meets USDA guidelines and is further away than arms reach.
Wildlife World Zoo did respond to questions about what would happen to the jaguar, saying the animal will not 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 animals fault when barriers are crossed. Still sending prayers to her and her family.— Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (@ZooWildlife) March 10, 2019
She won’t be put down.— Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (@ZooWildlife) March 10, 2019
The zoo spokesperson also said the woman attacked apologized for the incident, acknowledging she was in the wrong. She received stitches and is recovering well.
UPDATE ON WOMAN BEING CLAWED BY JAGUAR: Spokesperson with @ZooWildlife says the woman reached out to the zoo and has apologized, acknowledging what she did was wrong by jumping over the barrier. She received stitches and is recovering well. @FOX10Phoenix pic.twitter.com/YU0DoNLPUt— Jennifer Auh (@JennAuhFOX10) March 10, 2019
Currently, this female jaguar is not available for viewing at the Wildlife World Zoo.
Fox 10 reported this from Phoenix.