Jaguar claws Arizona woman who climbed zoo barrier to take a selfie

The jaguar that attacked a woman plays with a plastic bottle at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, Arizona, U.S., March 9, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video on March 10, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 March 2019
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Jaguar claws Arizona woman who climbed zoo barrier to take a selfie

  • The zoo’s statement said the female jaguar never left its enclosure, and that the incident was being fully investigated

ARIZONA : A jaguar clawed an Arizona woman who climbed over a barrier to take a picture at the Wildlife World Zoo near Phoenix, officials said, and the zoo assured animal lovers the big cat would not be put down.
Cellphone video of the incident showed at least one gash on the woman’s left forearm as she writhed on the ground in pain on Saturday.
“I hear this young girl screaming: ‘Help, help, help’ ... and the jaguar has clasped its claws outside the cage around her hand and into her flesh,” witness Adam Wilkerson told Fox 10 television.
Wilkerson’s mother distracted the jaguar by pushing a water bottle through the cage, and Wilkerson said he pulled the woman away. Cellphone video later showed the animal chewing on a plastic water bottle.
The identity of the woman, in her 30s, was being withheld, said Shawn Gilleland, a spokesman for Rural Metro Fire, the agency that responded to the incident.
She was taken to a hospital and treated, then later returned to the zoo to apologize, Gilleland said.
“She wanted to take a selfie or a picture of the animal, and she put her arm close enough to the cage that the cat was able to reach her,” Gilleland said.
The zoo’s statement said the female jaguar never left its enclosure, and that the incident was being fully investigated.
“We can promise you nothing will happen to our jaguar,” the zoo said on Twitter, responding to public concerns the animal might be put down.
The barrier surrounds the entire exhibit, creating a buffer of several feet (meters) from the enclosure, zoo spokeswoman Kristy Morcom told Fox 10
“There is climbing involved. It’s not something that is easily done,” Morcom said. “These are wild animals and those barriers are put there for a reason.”


Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

A woman poses for a photo among poppies in bloom on the hills of Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California, on March 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

  • More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

LAKE ELSINORE, California: Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore is being overwhelmed by the power of the poppies.
About 150,000 people over the weekend flocked to see this year’s rain-fed flaming orange patches of poppies lighting up the hillsides near the city of about 60,000 residents, about a 90-minute drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles.
Interstate 15 was a parking lot. People fainted in the heat; a dog romping through the fields was bitten by a rattlesnake.
A vibrant field of poppies lures Dorothy into a trap in the “Wizard of Oz” when the wicked witch, acknowledging that no one can resist their beauty, poisons the wildflowers and she slips into a fatal slumber until the good witch reverses the spell.
Lake Elsinore had tried to prepare for the crush of people drawn by the super bloom, a rare occurrence that usually happens about once a decade because it requires a wet winter and warm temperatures that stay above freezing.
It offered a free shuttle service to the top viewing spots, but it wasn’t enough.
Sunday traffic got so bad that Lake Elsinore officials requested law enforcement assistance from neighboring jurisdictions. At one point, the city pulled down the curtain and closed access to poppy-blanketed Walker Canyon.
“It was insane, absolutely insane,” said Mayor Steve Manos, who described it as a “poppy apocalypse.”
By Monday the #poppyshutdown announced by the city on Twitter was over and the road to the canyon was re-opened.
And people were streaming in again.
Young and old visitors to the Lake Elsinore area seemed equally enchanted as they snapped selfies against the natural carpet of iridescent orange.
Some contacted friends and family on video calls so they could share the beauty in real time. Artists propped canvasses on the side of the trail to paint the super bloom, while drones buzzed overhead.
Patty Bishop, 48, of nearby Lake Forest, was on her second visit. The native Californian had never seen such an explosion of color from the state flower. She battled traffic Sunday but that didn’t deter her from going back Monday for another look. She got there at sunrise and stayed for hours.
“There’s been so many in just one area,” she said. “I think that’s probably the main reason why I’m out here personally is because it’s so beautiful.”
Stephen Kim and his girlfriend got to Lake Elsinore even before sunrise Sunday to beat the crowds but there were already hundreds of people.
The two wedding photographers hiked on the designated trails with an engaged couple to do a photo shoot with the flowers in the background, but they were upset to see so many people going off-trail and so much garbage. They picked up as many discarded water bottles as they could carry.
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower,” said Kim, 24, of Carlsbad.
Andy Macuga, honorary mayor of the desert town of Borrego Springs, another wildflower hotspot, said he feels for Lake Elsinore.
In 2017, a rain-fed super bloom brought in more than a half-million visitors to the town of 3,500. Restaurants ran out of food. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Traffic backed up on a single road for 20 miles (32 kilometers).
The city is again experiencing a super bloom.
The crowds are back. Hotels are full. More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest park with 1,000 square miles (2,590 sq. kilometers).
But it helps that the masses of blooms are appearing in several different areas this time, and some sections are fading, while others are lighting up with flowers, helping to disperse the crowds a bit.
Most importantly, Macuga said, the town’s businesses prepared this time as if a major storm was about to hit. His restaurant, Carlee’s, is averaging more than 550 meals a day, compared to 300 on a normal March day.
“We were completely caught off guard in 2017 because it was the first time that we had had a flower season like this with social media,” he said. “It helps now knowing what’s coming.”