A man who decided to climb over the wooden barrier separating the public from the deadly felines inside the Range of the Jaguar exhibit at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens was viciously mauled by a big cat on Wednesday after the feline slashed him through a metal mesh fence.
Since the attack the jaguar was identified as 12-year-old Harry, zoo officials confirmed. This is the same feline who attacked and killed the exhibit’s oldest jaguar earlier this year in January.
According to Kelly Rouillard, the zoo’s marketing director, the man was hospitalized after the attack with non-life-threatening injuries. After he went over the waist-high safety barrier that separates the jaguars and visitors, he made the “foolish decision” and began taunting the jaguar, putting his hand through the metal fence and motioning for the cat to come over.
“It appears from witness accounts that he was looking to interact with the jaguar closer than he should have,” Rouillard said. “That’s not a wise or prudent decision. So when you do that, there are certainly potential consequences. It is fortunate that he did not sustain more injuries.”
Zoo officials said they do not plan to press charges against the man, saying they believe he had no “malicious intent,” and it is unknown if police will either. As for Harry the jaguar, he was doing what big cats do, Rouillard said.
“He was acting as part of his normal behavior for a wild animal,” she said. “We expect that type of behavior from wild animals and nothing will happen to him.”