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FD: Jaguar attacks woman taking selfie at Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park

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Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 13:11:40-04

LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ — A woman is recovering after she was attacked by a jaguar at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park Saturday evening.

Rural Metro Fire crews who responded to the scene said the woman was trying to take a selfie near the fence of the jaguar enclosure when the cat reached out and attacked her arm.

LISTEN: 911 tape released following jaguar clawing woman at zoo

Officials said she was transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Adam Wilkerson, who recorded video of the incident, said he was with his mother and his two kids near the jaguar enclosure when he heard screaming and saw the jaguar’s claws grasping a woman’s hand.

“It seems like pandemonium. Everyone yelling for help,” he wrote in a Reddit post.

He said his mother distracted the jaguar with a water bottle and it let go of the woman.

“We’re still in shock from it all,” he wrote.

"This is the second time the female jaguar has swiped at someone," said Wildlife World Zoo Director Mickey Ollson.

Ollson said the 4 to 5-year-old cat will not be euthanized because it, "was not the animal's fault and they would never harm an animal based on human behavior."

"I think you observe the barriers - they are there for a good reason. We try to keep everyone safe, we have an excellent safety record here with all our animals. For the past 35 years, Wildlife World Zoo has served literally hundreds of thousands and over a million customers with very few injuries and usually those injuries result from misbehavior of the visitor or human error. Every time that you have an incident in a zoo, you're going to double check it and meet with your staff try to figure out a way to stop that incident from happening again - but again, when people do not respect the barriers, there's always a chance there might be a problem."

Zoo officials tweeted the following statement Saturday night:

This is the second time this jaguar has attacked a visitor at the zoo.

Jeff Allan tells ABC15, he was hurt by the same cat last summer. Allan said he was reaching over a barrier to take a video and that's when the animal clawed him. "I never climbed over a barrier. I never stepped over a barrier I was behind the barrier and just reached my arm out," said Allan.

Allan said he got eight stitches and even hired an attorney hoping the zoo would add more protection between visitors and the animals.

He said the case never went to court. "I didn't even want money. 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."

The Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave. in Litchfield Park. On its website, it says it has the "largest collection of exotic and endangered animals, with more than 600 separate species."

Stay with ABC15 News for updates.