Litchfield Park, AZ – The woman who was clawed by a jaguar at the zoo on Saturday said she wasn’t taking a selfie when the predatory cat attacked her (video below).
All major media outlets initially reported that the woman had gone over the concrete barrier in front of the jaguar cage at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park on March 9 to get a “selfie” picture with the animal.
The video of her writhing in pain on the ground, with blood running down her right arm, quickly went viral on social media.
Animal lovers around the world who saw the video became worried that the jaguar would meet the same fate as Harambe, the gorilla who was shot at a zoo in 2016 after a three-year-old boy climbed down into his gorilla enclosure, The New York Times reported.
So the zoo posted a message to let fans know the big cat was safe.
“We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar. She’s a wild animal and there were proper barriers in place to keep our guests safe- not a wild animals fault when barriers are crossed. Still sending prayers to her and her family,” the World Wildlife Zoo tweeted the day after the incident.
However, the woman bleeding in the video told CBS News on Monday that she was not taking a selfie when the incident occurred, and that she never crossed over the concrete wall.
“I never crossed the barrier. I just leaned over,” said the woman, who asked to only be identified as “Leanne.”
That’s when the jaguar reached out its paw and clawed on to her arm, she said.
The animal held on and refused to let go until another visitor to the zoo distracted the cat with her water bottle.
Even then, the animal held onto her shirt as she was pulled away, Leanne told CBS News.
The zoo’s jaguar was inside a metal fence that was located behind a concrete barrier that is slightly higher than waist-high on an adult, The New York Times reported.
Leanne told CBS News that she contacted zoo officials the next morning to extend an apology.
She said she never intended for the story to go national, and only realized there was a viral video after she was released from the hospital.
“I apologized to the zoo because they don’t need this. They don’t need the backlash – the media. I never went to the media. I never would have. I didn’t want this big thing that’s now apparently national,” Leanne said.
“I grew up here. I go to the zoo all the time. I live close to the zoo. I take my kids to the zoo. I don’t want that to change,” she said.
The woman said that although she admitted she had leaned inside the barrier, she did not accept full responsibility for what happened.
“I was in the wrong for leaning over the barrier, but I do think the zoo should look into move their fence back,” Leanne said. “I was told that it was at federal regulation, but if that jaguar can get her paw through the fence, anybody can reach out. I’m not the first, and if they don’t move the fence, I’m probably not going to be the last.”
She offered to start a fundraiser to pay for moving the fence, KTVK reported.
The zoo said the only other incident with the jaguar involved another visitor who was scratched last year after he went over the concrete barrier, KTVK reported.
“I support the zoo. I just want to make sure they make it safe for others,” Leanne told CBS News.
Watch the viral video of the aftermath of the attack below: