UPDATE: Child bit on neck and foot after falling into zoo's big cat exhibit
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) —
UPDATE: Statement from Arkansas Children's Hospital:
Yesterday a child was transported to Arkansas Children's Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in a fall at the Little Rock Zoo. The child's condition has been upgraded to stable and is expected to improve. We respect the wishes of the child's guardian who asked that the child's name and any additional information not be shared at this time. Thank you for respecting the privacy of this family." - Dan McFadden Director of Communications Arkansas Children's Hospital
According to the report from the Little Rock Police Department, a primate keeper heard the calls for help at the jaguar exhibit and ran over to help.
She said she saw the yellow jaguar (Agave) with its mouth around the little boy's neck.
Police say the father of the child told them he was leaning over the rail trying to get a picture of the animals and out of his peripheral vision saw the child's feet go over the rail. The father ran for help.
The little boy reportedly fell approximately 15 to 16 feet. The father said the black cat (Cactus Jack) bit the child on the foot and Agave bit into the clothing near the boy's neck.
The father told police he picked up a water hose spool and threw it at the cats. The spool hit the cats and caused them to let go of the boy. The father said the Cactus Jack moved away from the child, but Agave circled back and bit the boy on the back of his neck.
The father said he threw a camera bag at the cat, hitting it and causing it to let go of the boy.
At that point, zoo staff arrived and kept the cats at bay with fire extinguishers so the child could be rescued.
Doctors tell police the boy has extensive scalp lacerations, a depressed skull fracture, and minor puncture wounds, though they don't believe the wounds are life threatening.
The zoo reports the jaguars have been relocated from the exhibit and are unharmed. The jaguar exhibit is temporarily closed.
A 3-year-old boy is in critical condition after falling into a large cat exhibit Friday morning at the Little Rock Zoo.
A spokesman for the City of Little Rock said in a statement the child fell into the jaguar enclosure around 10:45 a.m. Staff with the Little Rock Zoo called for additional help over the radio and used fire extinguishers to safely overwhelm the animals to keep them away from the little boy.
They were able to successfully keep the cats back while other zoo staff lowered a ladder into the exhibit. An employee climbed down and retrieved the boy who was conscious and responding. He was then handed back to his father.
Both were taken by golf cart to the zoo's back gate where the child was placed in an ambulance and taken to Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Witnesses at the Little Rock Zoo tell Channel 7 News they saw the young boy bleeding from the head when the ambulance arrived.
"We were going on a normal tour, some of the coworkers just stopped us and was telling us to hold off and we were wondering why, then we saw a little cart go by with a child with his head bleeding, so we were trying to figure out what's going on," said zoo visitor Bridgette Humphrey.
City Manager Bruce Moore made the following statement:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the child and the family. The safety of our citizens is of paramount value and our staff followed training procedures on rescuing the child and were able to respond quickly and efficiently and work with emergency personnel. A full investigation into the incident is being conducted.
Here is the initial statement from Arkansas Children's Hospital:
We are treating a child here at Arkansas Children's Hospital who was injured earlier today at the Little Rock Zoo. The child's condition is critical. We respect the wishes of the child's guardian who asked that the child's name and any additional information not be shared at this time. Thank you for respecting the privacy of this family.