LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A woman was attacked by a jaguar at Wildlife World Zoo Saturday evening, according to Rural Metro Fire officials.

It happened around 6:45 p.m.

The woman, who is in her 30s, suffered a laceration on her arm and was taken to the hospital. She is expected to be okay.

Rural Metro officials said the woman was "attempting to take a selfie near the fence of the Jaguar enclosure when the cat reached out and attacked her arm."

We spoke with the director of Wildlife World Zoo.

"There's no way to fix people crossing barriers," said Mickey Ollson, Zoo director. "That happens occasionally. And we put substantial barriers there and if people cross them, they can get in trouble."

Tweets from Wildlife World Zoo also indicated that the victim "went over the barrier for a photo."

The tweets included these messages:

"We regret to inform, b4 [sic] closing there was an incident reported w/a guest, crossing over a barrier to get a photo, according to eyewitnesses. She sustained non-life-threatening injuries to the hand from 1 or our 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."

During an interview with Arizona's Family Sunday, Zoo spokeswoman Kristy Morcom said that the jaguar is currently off the exhibit while they investigate the incident.

[VIDEO: Wildlife World Zoo spokeswoman: 'jaguar will not be euthanized']

Morcom added that the jaguar will not be euthanized.

Another visitor to the zoo, Adam Wilkerson, captured the moments following the attack on video. The video was then posted to Reddit.

The video is very graphic, and you can hear the victim screaming in pain. A deep laceration on the victim's arm was also visible in the video.

Wilkerson said he and his family members heard a female screaming for help, and rushed over to see the woman with her hand against the jaguar enclosure.

He described for us what happened next. 

"My mom runs up and takes her water bottle and shoves it through the cage near where the jaguar is, and the jaguar goes to let go of the girl to take the water bottle, and the claw just catches this girl's sweater," he said. "So at that point I see that it's no longer attached to the girl's actual arm, only on her sweater, so I grab the girl on her torso and I pull her back."

You could see and hear in the video that the woman was in obvious pain.

"She was lying on the ground screaming in agony," Wilkerson posted.

This is apparently not the first time this jaguar has hurt a park visitor. Ollson told us about an incident that happened about a year ago.

"She had scratched a person once before when they crossed the barrier," said Ollson. But he says the other injury was not as serious.

The Humane Society of the United States released a statement following the incident:

"When various types of exhibitors promote all sorts of close encounters with wildlife, people get the mistaken idea that wild animals are approachable. Throw in a healthy dose of poor judgement, and incidents like this are bound to happen. We urge the zoological community exhibitors to set a higher standard to protect people and to respect wildlife from a safe distance by doing away with public contact opportunities with wildlife of all species."

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park is located in Litchfield Park in the west Valley.

 


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