A little boy’s trip to the zoo took a dangerously wild turn when the first grader climbed over a railing and made his way right up to the cage of the leopard that grabbed the boy by his head.
According to the Witchita Eagle, the child received lacerations to his head and neck. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors said the boy was out of danger.
A spokesperson at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, confirmed the incident. He explained that the boy, a first grader at the Linwood Elementary School, came with his school on a field trip to the zoo. Several other schools were also visiting that Friday.
The spokesman said that the boy climbed a four to five foot tall railing that surrounded the leopard’s cage. He further went across at least eight feet that separated the fence from the cage. The boy was standing right by the cage when according to a witness named Naomi Robinson, the leopard struck out its paws and grabbed the child. “It happened so quick,” the mother of two said. Robinson said the boy started to scream at once. Luckily, a man and woman nearby jumped over the railing and ran to help. The man kicked the leopard in the head and it let go of the boy, who was already bleeding profusely. People nearby all ran to help and the boy’s head was wrapped in shirts and towels.
Like other witnesses, Robinson was horrified. She was glad though that her two children did not see the accident. “They were looking the other way,” she said.
A Wichita school district spokesperson told The Associated Press that counselors were sent to talk to the children who witnessed the attack so that the traumatic experience could be allayed for the scared little bystanders.
The attacking leopard is an Amur leopard. It is an endangered animal and according to estimates, there are only 30 to 35 Amur leopards left in the world. The enclosure at the zoo seems safe enough and a sign hangs outside, warning people “Dangerous Animals: Please respect their space by staying on your side of the guardrail” – clearly not enough for inquisitive little adventurers like this little boy.