Jaguar attacks woman taking picture at Arizona zoo

Posted at 7:38 AM, Mar 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-10 21:11:58-04

A jaguar attacked a woman at a zoo in Arizona, leaving her with injuries that required medical attention, the fire department said.

The attack happened Saturday evening at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, said Shawn Gilleland of the Rural Metro Fire Department.

The guest crossed over the barrier to get a photo and was attacked by a female jaguar, the zoo tweeted, citing witness accounts.

“The visitor sustained non-life threatening injuries to their arm from one of our female jaguars. At the request of the family, paramedics were called. At no time was the animal out of its enclosure … please understand why barriers are put in place. Sending prayers to the family tonight,” the zoo tweeted.

Related: Arizona Zoo says jaguar that injured woman who stood too close to enclosure will not be put down

The woman, who is in her 30s, was taken to the hospitaland is expected to survive, CNN affiliate KPHO reported.Citing the fire department, the affiliate said the woman was trying to take a selfie near the fence of the jaguar enclosure when the animal reached out and attacked her arm.

Witness describes horrifying attack

Adam Wilkerson said he was at the zoo with his family when someone came running around the corner yelling for help.

“Without thinking, I had no idea what I was going to see, I just ran over there,” he said. “I saw the other girl up against the fence with her arm caught in the jaguar’s claws.”

Wilkerson said he was standing behind the woman, but didn’t want to pull her off. “I could see the claws in her actual flesh,” he said.

In an effort to distract the jaguar, Wilkerson said, his mother ran up behind him and shoved her water bottle through the cage. The bottle distracted the jaguar, and it let go of the victim.

“When my mom put the water bottle through the gate, the jaguar let go of the girl. And we pulled the girl back and she collapsed,” he said.

Wilkerson did not see the actual attack and could not comment on how the victim got so close to the animal.

There were no employees nearby during the incident, Wilkerson said.

Litchfield Park is about 20 miles from Phoenix.