Lion bites late-night zoo intruder trying to breach enclosure over 19-foot fence

"You can only speculate what would have happened" if man had gotten in.

A lion bit a man at a California zoo after the late-night intruder allegedly attempted to enter the animal’s enclosure, officials said.

The incident at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo occurred around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when the man allegedly jumped the 8-foot wire zoo perimeter fence topped with barbed wire. After entering the zoo, the man then climbed another fence before attempting to climb the 19-foot mesh fence at the African Adventure exhibit where the lions live, zoo Chief Marketing and Development Officer Alisha Anderson said.

While climbing the mesh fence, a lion approached the man and bit his foot through the fence. It was then that zoo security, while on their normal rounds, caught the man mid-climb and pulled him down. Zoo security then called the police, who apprehended the man, Anderson said, stressing that he never entered the exhibit that holds two male and two female lions.

“It is a lion so you can only speculate what would have happened,” Anderson said. “But it was a 19-foot fence, so who knows if he would have made it over.”

The 40-acre zoo is reviewing surveillance footage of the incident but has found no video of the man’s climbing any of the fences. The zoo didn’t know his name and police did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

This isn’t the first time someone has breached the Fresno Chaffee Zoo perimeter. Another person jumped the zoo’s perimeter barrier four years ago and climbed into the orangutan enclosure. Staff responded quickly to that incident as well, Anderson said.

“They’re all wild animals at the end of the day, which is why we have so many protocols for our keepers and staff, and the guests, of course,” she said. “Everything is built to a standard to keep everyone safe.”

And as for the lions in question?

“We’re very happy to report that they all seem fine,” Anderson said.