A jaguar mauled a woman’s arm at an Arizona zoo on Saturday while she was trying to take a selfie. The incident is igniting a conversation on zoo safety and barriers.
Witnesses said the woman reached over the barrier of a jaguar enclosure for the picture. The animal, still in the enclosure, mauled her arm in response. She left with moderate injuries but a severe scare. The jaguar was not euthanized and the woman went back to the zoo on Sunday to apologize.
The enclosure for the jaguar at the Arizona zoo is different than the one at the Living Desert. The Palm Desert zoo has several glass barriers for the larger animals. They also have around 150 staff members on the ground working different jobs, Erin Scott, Marketing and PR Director for the Living Desert, said.
Scott said safety is the Living Desert’s number one concern on a daily basis.
“We run regular safety drills,” she said. “We have a lot of safety measures in place to ensure that guests and staff and animal safety is everyday our number one priority.”
Nigel Flook, a regular attendee of the Living Desert, said, “I think the way it’s designed here, everything seemed very safe. There’s lots of staff around, there’s lots of people looking after things and we just felt very comfortable having our family here and walking around.”
Flook’s daughter, a mother of two, added the barriers at the zoo are extremely evident.
“There’s lots of barriers for everybody to stay safe. If there’s one little barrier for the kids to go up to, there’s another fence right after that to keep the animals in.”
Scott said visitors need to remember the animals are in their habitat.
“We need to respect those boundaries that are put into place,” Scott said. “Our guests and our staff all respect those boundaries because that is the animal’s space.”
Flook and his family said it was not a problem getting good pictures during their Monday outing at the zoo.
According to Scott, the Living Desert has never had an issue with animal attacks before. The recent attack at the Arizona zoo marks the second jaguar attack this year.
The Arizona zoo tweeted in response to its incident, “Please understand why barriers are put in place.”