Leopard Mauls Boy on School Trip to Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas

School field trip turns horrific when boy gets too close to animal's enclosure.

ByABC News
May 8, 2011, 10:03 PM

May 9, 2011 — -- A child on a school field trip to a Wichita zoo was mauled by a leopard after the child got to close to the big cat's enclosure and was grabbed by the animal.

Two visitors who saw the attack jumped over the railing around the animal's cage and kicked the leopard in the head until it released the 7-year-old boy.

Naomi Robinson, a witness, described the scene that unfolded Friday at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.

"The cat just really reached out and grabbed him by his head and then clawed him. A man and a woman who were standing there watching jumped up through there and kicked him in his head and he released the child," she said.

The first-grader had apparently climbed over the railing and approached the cat's thin metal mesh enclosure. The cat sprang.

"This little boy was facing away from the cage and the leopard had his head ... in his paws, and it was trying to bite through the wire," said Stephanie Terribilini, another zoo visitor who witnessed the mauling.

John Delgado jumped in to save the boy.

He was "just somebody's kid," Delgado said. "I couldn't let that happen. It was sad."

The boy is listed in fair condition. He suffered deep scratches on his face and neck as a result of the attack.

This is not the first time zoo cats have attacked.

In 2007, a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo killed a man and wounded two others after they allegedly taunted the animal.

Officials have stressed to the public that even though the big cats are in captivity, they're still wild animals.

Jim Marlett, the assistant zoo director at Sedgwick County Zoo, said: "We don't treat our animals as if they're pets, because they're not."

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