Kansas City Zoo officials remind visitors about safety after Arizona jaguar attack

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Arizona woman is apologizing for jumping a barrier at a zoo and being attacked by a jaguar while she was trying to take a selfie.

It happened over the weekend at a zoo near Phoenix. The woman admits she was wrong for jumping over the barrier, and zoo officials say the jaguar will not be euthanized.

The Kansas City Zoo also has big cats, but no jaguars, and they also have barriers to keep visitors away from them. Zoo officials say for the most part people obey them, but this weekend’s jaguar attack is a good reminder to keep your distance.

“Sometimes they do look very cute and cuddly,” Sr. Director of Zoological Operations, Sean Putney said. “They still have claws, and they still have big teeth and can be formidable, and unfortunately things like that on occasion by people taking an unwise decision. You think you might have time to lean up and get a selfie or take a picture or whatever. You turn your back for a second, and that might be what it takes.”

The Kansas City Zoo keeps a number of barriers between the animals and visitors. They ask visitors to contact security if they see someone cross them, feed the animals, or throw items inside enclosures.

“A lot of the animals can be dangerous if given the right opportunity,” Putney said. “We don’t have our keepers going in with the animals, and that’s why you have secondary barriers to keep people from getting into precarious situations.”

Moms Sara Bettge and Ashley Welton from Gardner, Kansas brought their combined eight kids to the zoo for the first day of sun in a long while. They both say the woman should have known better than to cross the barrier.

“We just had one of the staff members explain to the kids to stay on the sidewalk,” Bettge said. “We are in their home, so they know to not touch the animals. To just sit and watch with their eyes.”

“These fences and barriers are here for a reason, so we’re always telling our kids don’t climb onto them, don’t climb over them,” Welton said. “They’re there to keep us safe, and to keep the animals safe.”

“We want the zoo to be a place where people can go and have fun, but not so much fun where you’re getting yourself into a situation that can be dangerous,” Putney said.

The zoo asks if you see something out of place that you say something by calling zoo security at 816-595-1234.

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