JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who jumped over a gate of the Range of the Jaguar exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Wednesday afternoon and stuck his hand into the pen was clawed by one of the big cats, employees and witnesses told News4Jax.
Jacksonville Fire-Rescue said the man, who was described as in his 20s, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
One witness said the man was egging on the jaguars in the exhibit before jumping the barrier. Another said she saw employees cleaning up a trail of blood while the man was taken out with his arm bandaged.
“This is an individual that wasn’t using his head,” deputy zoo director Dan Maloney said. “He stuck his hand in through the mesh that separates the jaguars from the outside.”
Maloney said if the jaguar had been able to latch on, “it would have been a very different story.”
The zoo said this is the only time anyone has been injured in the 11 years since the jaguar exhibit opened at the zoo and emphasized that it is safe for zoogoers who don’t jump over fences and engage the animals.