LOS ANGELES - While observing wildlife and appreciating nature can be a fun experience, getting charged at by wild animals may not be so exciting.
On Thursday, the National Park Service posted on their Facebook warning visitors about the risks of getting too close to wild animals during their trips to the parks. The post included a fun, but telling, “wildlife petting chart” that points out that no part of a wild animal is safe to touch.
“Animals in parks are wild — visitors have the amazing opportunity to view animals as they live and interact with each other in their natural homes,” wrote the National Park Service on the chart. “But with that privilege comes responsibility. Visitors are responsible for their own safety and for the safety of the animals, too.”
The post linked to a page on the National Park Service’s website that detailed how visitors can partake in smart wildlife watching.
Last month, the National Park Service issued an official report on their website about a viral video of a 9-year-old girl who was injured by a bison. According to witnesses, a group of approximately 50 people were within 5-10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes, eventually causing the wild animal to charge the group.
The 9-year-old girl was charged at and tossed into the air by the bull bison. She was assessed and treated by emergency medical providers, and was later taken to and released from a clinic.
While there were no serious injuries, the incident sparked debate on social media about proper visitor behavior when visiting wildlife parks and when around wildlife.
“Yellowstone, is not a petting zoo,” tweeted one individual under the video of the incident.
“Remember to keep your distance, and enjoy your experience watching wildlife,” wrote the National Park Service. “No touching, no feeding, no harassing.”