A woman who was clawed by a jaguar at an Arizona zoo after she leaned a security barrier to pose for a picture has spoken out for the first time, insisting she has learned her lesson.
Identified as Leanne, the woman says she feels lucky to be alive after the frightening encounter with a black jaguar at the Wildland World Zoo on Saturday.
Leanne, in her 30s, says she saw the jungle cat pressed up against the cage of its enclosure and spotted an opportunity to ‘get some good pictures’.
Leaning over a security barrier, Leanne position her camera in front of the animal, prompting it to reach a paw through the cage wire and swipe at her arm.
‘The black jaguar was up against the fence we happened to be walking by and said ‘hey, let’s get some good pictures’,’ Leanne recalled to CBS News.
‘I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier, but I think the zoo should consider moving their fence back.’
Leanne, in her 30s, says she has ‘learned her lesson’ from the attack but says the zoo should take extra security measures in future
Last year, the black jaguar (above) was involved in a similar incident involving another zoo-goer, named Jeff Allan. Like Leanne, Jeff says he leaned over the barrier to get a closer picture and was swiped on the arm
The security wall, which is three-foot high and stands four-feet away from the enclosure’s fence, is in keeping with federal safety guidelines, according to the zoo
Passersby were summoned into action when Leanne began crying out in pain. Adam Wilkerson, who was at the zoo with his two sons, distracted the jaguar by pushing a water bottle into his enclosure so Leanne could be attended to.
Wilkerson captured a video documenting the aftermath of the attack, showing Leanne writhing around in pain on the floor with blood pouring from her wrist.
She was rushed to the hospital and treated for ‘stable, non-life threatening injuries’, requiring only stitches. She was released the same day.
‘I never expected this,’ said Leanne. ‘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.
Agreeing with Leanne, in an interview with local news, Wilkerson described the zoo as being ‘a lot more open’ than others, allowing visitors to get closer to the animals than necessary.
Though he said the ‘waist-high’ security fences are sufficient for those who don’t try to lean over them.
‘Common sense would say that would probably not be a good idea, he said to the New York Times of Leanne’s actions.
Leanne (seen right with her arm in bandages) told CBS News ‘I’m not the first…and I’m probably not going to be the last’ to reach over the barrier and get hurt
A video, captured by Adam Wilkerson, circulated online over the weekend showing Leanne writhing around in pain in the aftermath of the incident
Leanne was rushed to the hospital and treated for ‘stable, non-life threatening injuries’, requiring only stitches. She says she feels lucky to be alive
In the wake of what Leanne describes as a ‘crazy accident’, rather than an attack, it has emerged that a similar incident concerning the same Jaguar happened at the park last year.
Jeff Allan needed medical treatment after he leaned over a barrier last summer, and received a clawing from the black wild cat.
Allan suffered a nasty would to his thumb and required eight stitches.
He hired an attorney in a bid to persuade the zoo to implement extra safety measures, but said the case never reached court.
‘I didn’t even want money’ he told ABC15.
All my wife and I wanted was…I mean a kid could cross over this barrier if he wanted to. If my 3-year-old grandson wanted to cross over this barrier he could do it.
‘I never climbed over a barrier. I never stepped over a barrier. I was behind the barrier and just reached my arm out.,’ Allan said.
Jeff Allan (left) says he was attacked by the same Jaguar last year. He required eight stitches after the ordeal
Allan said he was reaching over the barrier, much like Leanne, when suddenly the big cat slipped a paw through the fence and swiped at his hand
The security barriers, which are around three-feet high and set four-feet away from the enclosure’s fence, meet federal safety guidelines, according to Wildlife World Zoo spokesperson, Kristy, Morcom.
‘We are taking into consideration all aspects of safety pertaining to this exhibit as well as throughout the entire park because that is our biggest concern.
‘People need to respect the barriers and understand they are put in place for the safety of everyone.’
After the video emerged online, concern for the safety of the animal was rife on social media, with many speculating the jaguar may face the same fate as famed gorilla Harambe, who was euthanized after an incident involving a three-year-old boy at Cincinnati Zoo, in 2016.
For the time being, the jaguar has been temporarily removed from the enclosure while an investigation is carried out.
In a statement on Twitter, the zoo ensured no harm would come to the animal as they say what transpired wasn’t the jaguar’s fault.
‘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 the barriers are crossed.
‘Still sending prayers to [Leanne] and her family.’
Concern for the cat’s welfare was aired in abundance on social media, with many speculating whether the jaguar would face the same fate as Harambe, in 2016
Although there were fears the jaguar would be euthanized over the incident, the zoo’s bosses confirmed on Twitter she would not be put down
Zoo officials have said that the incidents involving Allan and Leanne are the only two in recent memory.