Today, a three-year-old child tumbled into the jaguar exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas. As is probably not surprising, both of the zoo's jaguars immediately went to investigate this sudden intrusion into their habitat. One was repelled by objects thrown by the boy's father; the other was driven off by zookeepers who entered the enclosure with fire extinguishers. Meanwhile, other keepers lowered a ladder into the exhibit (risky - a cat could have climbed up) and removed the child, turning him over to paramedics.
The child was removed - alive - from the enclosure. Neither of the jaguars were harmed. All things considered, a remarkable performance by the employees of the Little Rock Zoo, one which they should be very proud of and one which will doubtlessly be a permanent fixture in the zoo's mythology.
However, one minor detail I'd like to go back to... exactly how did this kid fall into the exhibit?
Oh, that's right... his grandfather put him on the railing... and then turned away.
Seriously, after the tragedy at the Pittsburgh Zoo two years ago, how anyone thinks that putting a small child on top of a railing, or holding them over a moat, or setting them down on the other side of a fence, or anything along those lines is a good idea blows my mind.
The boy is in critical condition, but his injuries are not considered life threatening, so hopefully he will be okay. Happier ending than at Pittsburgh, at any rate.
I must see stuff like this every other day when I go to work... and I shudder to think of how many times it must happen that I don't see. Someday, luck runs out for some people. Please... be careful.
PS: Props to whoever it was who actually went into the jag enclosure with the fire extinguisher. Of all the big cats, the thought of going in with jaguars - especially freaked out jaguars that have had panicky parents throwing stuff at them - makes me queasy. Someone at LR has some major cojones