A woman has apologized to officials at an Arizona zoo after she climbed over a barrier while trying to take a photo and was attacked by a jaguar.
The incident occurred on Saturday at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park in Litchfield Park, Ariz., where emergency workers responded around 6:40 p.m. and found “a female in her 30s with lacerations on her arm,” said Shawn Gilleland, a spokesman for the Rural/Metro Fire Department. One of the zoo’s female jaguars had dug its claws into the woman’s arm after she crossed the barrier, officials said.
Adam Wilkerson, who was at the zoo with his mother and two sons, said his mother successfully distracted the jaguar by shoving a water bottle into the cage. A video he took shows the woman writhing on the ground after the attack. She was treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital with “stable, non-life-threatening injuries,” Mr. Gilleland said.
“This zoo in particular is a lot more open in terms of how close you can get to these animals,” said Mr. Wilkerson, describing the barrier as “a little bit above waist height” for him (he is 5-foot-9). He said what he witnessed was “more of a reach than a climb” by the woman who was injured, but he clarified that the barriers were safe for those who do not try to lean over them.
“Common sense would say that that would probably not be a good idea,” he added. The zoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Zoo officials told local news outlets that the woman, who has not been publicly identified, later apologized for her actions.
On Twitter, many expressed concern for the jaguar, and some drew comparisons to a similar incident in 2016, when a 3-year-old boy slipped into an enclosure and was dragged by a gorilla named Harambe, resulting in the animal’s being shot and killed by zoo workers. Then, as in this case, many did not fault the animal, and Harambe’s death caused widespread outrage.
The Wildlife World Zoo assured a Twitter user who worried that the jaguar might 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 animal’s fault when barriers are crossed.”
Life-threatening and fatal incidents in recent years have highlighted the dangers that people will accept for a photo, especially a selfie. (It was not clear whether the woman in Arizona was trying to take a selfie.)
According to a 2018 study, 259 deaths from October 2011 to November 2017 were a result of attempted selfies, most while the person was engaging in risky behavior like standing on the slippery edge of a cliff. At Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains, for instance, four of the most recent deaths were the result of someone either posing for or taking a picture, and New York State has taken measures to make the area more safe and accessible to visitors.
Selfies aren’t inherently dangerous, the study concluded, but “the human behavior that accompanies selfies is dangerous. Individuals need to be educated regarding certain risky behaviors and risky places where selfies should not be taken.”