A jaguar clawed an Arizona woman when she tried to take a selfie with the animal at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park.
Rescuers from the Rural Metro Fire Department said the 30-year-old victim was trying to take a picture of the jaguar near the fence when the animal suddenly reached out and attacked her arm.
Footage from the incident showed the woman had suffered at least a gash on her left forearm following the attack. She was found writhing in pain on the ground.
Another zoo visitor, Adam Wilkerson, said he and his family heard a woman’s voice screaming for help. They rushed over to see the victim had her arm against the animal enclosure.
Wilkerson told local news how they were able to help the woman.
“My mom runs up and takes her water bottle and shoves it through the cage near where the jaguar is, and the jaguar goes to let go of the girl to take the water bottle, and the claw just catches this girl’s sweater,” he said.
“So at that point I see that it’s no longer attached to the girl’s actual arm, only on her sweater, so I grab the girl on her torso and I pull her back.”
Shawn Gilleland, a spokesman for the fire department, said the victim was taken to the hospital to treat her injuries, which are described as non-life threatening.
The woman returned to the zoo the following day to apologize, stating that her actions were “foolish.” Witnesses said the victim had tried to climb over the barrier to take a photo, according to the Wildlife World Zoo. Officials pointed out that the Jaguar was never outside of its enclosure, though they are still looking further into the incident.
The zoo also promised concerned citizens that nothing will happen to the jaguar. Officials said they are sending prayers to the victim and her family.
Animal experts warn guests at zoos and wildlife parks to stay clear of animal pens to avoid untoward incidents. However, animal attacks still occur in certain instances.
Earlier this year, a zoo volunteer in Ohio lost her thumb when one of the orangutans she was taking care of reached through a barrier and bit her arm. Toledo Zoo officials said the woman’s injuries were not life-threatening and she was taken to a local hospital.
Meanwhile, a zoo intern in North Carolina was killed last year when a lion escaped its pen and attacked her. The 22-year-old woman was cleaning an animal enclosure at the Conservators Center when she was mauled by the escaped animal. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office shot and killed the lion before they were able to retrieve the victim’s body.
Mindy Stinner, executive director of the Conservators Center, said the zoo intern was working with a team cleaning the animal pen. The lion was supposed to be locked into a separate area but somehow entered the other enclosure and quickly attacked the victim. Stinner said no one else was injured during the incident.
The Humane Society of the United States noted that it was at least the 10th incident involving an escape or attack by an animal at a private wildlife facility in North Carolina since 1997.