The woman who suffered injuries after she made her way into a jaguar enclosure at a zoo in Arizona has spoken publicly about the incident for the first time since it happened, calling it a ‘crazy accident’.
The incident occurred on Saturday, March 10, when the woman – who reportedly wanted a selfie with the animal – crossed a number of barriers to get closer to the jaguar.
The woman suffered lacerations to her arms, though her injuries were not life-threatening.
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park director, Mickey Ollson, told CBS News:
When people do not respect the barriers, there’s always a chance there might be a problem.
Luckily, there were other quick-thinking visitors at the zoo who helped the woman back to safety.
GRAPHIC VIDEO: Woman attacked by a jaguar at @ZooWildlife … officials say, the woman crossed over a barrier to get a photo. I’ll have more at 9 and 10.
— Jennifer Martinez (@Jennifer_Fox10) March 10, 2019
The injured woman spoke to CBS News about the incident, saying she was grateful to the people who rescued her, but not happy that a video of the event was made public.
According to authorities, the woman had crossed a concrete barrier in order to take her photo, when the animal reached out and clawed her arm. The woman reportedly denies entering the enclosure surrounded by a concrete barrier however, which does not meet federal guidelines.
One witness, Adam Wilkerson, said:
The claws that were retracted were definitely outside the cage and grasped around her hand. And she was holding it, her other arm, with her hand attached to the paw, just screaming, screaming, screaming to get out.
Wildlife World Zoo made the following remarks in a tweeted statement after the event:
Please understand why barriers are put in place. Sending prayers to the family tonight.
Please understand why barriers are put in place. Sending prayers to the family tonight. pic.twitter.com/2MPb8bXhwR
— Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (@ZooWildlife) March 10, 2019
The zoo has also made a statement confirming no harm will come to the jaguar after the incident, while adding that officials have met with the woman, who apologised and admitted her regret for what happened.
Writing on Twitter, they said:
We want to thank everyone who supports Wildlife World and our decision not to euthanize the jaguar after Saturday’s incident. The person involved met privately with zoo officials to acknowledge her regret for her role in the past weekend’s events.
She did receive stitches, but was not admitted into the hospital and was home later that night. Wildlife world staff and administrators appreciate her sincere apology and we look forward to welcoming her and her family back at a future date.
— Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park (@ZooWildlife) March 11, 2019
Animal rights activists have also spoken about the incident, warning people – who are often seeking a perfect photo to post online – that invading an animal’s space causes anxiety for the animal, which is when they are most likely to lash out.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.