A woman was visiting the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park recently when she made a decision that will follow her for the rest of her life. It was at the Arizona zoo that she leaned over the barrier where they keep the jaguar for an opportunistic photo and was attacked by the female.
She said that she has now learned her lesson but she is also asking that the zoo take a closer look at their safety standards.
The woman, who is identified only as Leanne is talking for the first time. She said that she put her arm in front of the safety fence with the camera and the big cat took a swipe at her arm.
She said: “The black jaguar was up against the fence we happened to be walking by and said ‘hey, let’s get some good pictures’.
“I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier, but I think the zoo should consider moving their fence back.”
People who were passing by stopped to help Leanne, who was in quite a bit of pain by that point. Adam Wilkerson is one of those bystanders who was visiting the zoo that day with his two sons.
His quick thinking may have stopped the jaguar from going further with the attack. He pushed a water bottle into the enclosure, distracting the jaguar while help came for Leanne. After being taken to the hospital, she was released the same day with ‘stable, non-life threatening injuries’.
“I never expected this” Leanne said. “I feel like we’re all human, we make mistakes and I learned my lesson.
“Anybody can reach out. I’m not the first, and if they don’t move the fence, I’m probably not going to be the last,’ she added.
Wilkerson, the man who helped her said: “This zoo in particular is a lot more open in terms of how close you can get to these animals.”
He spoke of the barrier as being ‘a little bit above waist height’ and that it was ‘more of a reach than a climb’ by the woman who was attacked. He also said the barrier was safe for anyone, provided they were not reaching over them.
He added: “Common sense would say that that would probably not be a good idea.”
Leanne has come forward with an apology, saying she loves the zoo and didn’t want to bring bad publicity.
Acc. to @ZooWildlife: "Victim contacted the zoo and wanted to speak to the owner. She came out on Sunday and met with the owner Mickey Ollson. She told him she loves the zoo and feels horrible about the bad publicity the zoo is getting regarding the incident…" pic.twitter.com/e2bK5BnqYf— Lindsey Reiser (@LindseyReiser) March 11, 2019
Of course, the fact that people make bad decisions does not surprise us. The Internet, on the other hand, was concerned that we would have another ‘Harambe’ incident. The zoo calmed everyone by saying that nothing would be done with the jaguar.
They posted the following online: “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. Still sending prayers to her and her family.”