Man who trespassed jaguar exhibit and swiped at not allowed back at Jacksonville Zoo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man was swiped at and cut by a jaguar at the Jacksonville Zoo on Wednesday after he got past the safety barriers.

The deputy director told Action News Jax it was simply a foolish incident made by an adult, he’s hoping the man learned his lesson and said it could’ve been much worse than just cuts on his arm.

Officials with the zoo said the jaguar will not be put down, because it did nothing wrong.

Action News Jax learned from JSO on Thursday the zoo requested a trespass warning against the man, meaning he is not allowed to come back to the zoo. There is no investigation and no charges pressed, just the trespass warning has been issued.

“If someone decides they want to get up close to a big powerful cat, then that’s a foolish decision,” Deputy Director Dan Maloney said.

The wooden safety barrier is separated by a distanced space and the stainless steel woven mesh fencing. Action News Jax is told the man got past the barrier and put his arm either right up to, or in the fencing when he was swiped at by a jaguar.

Zoo officials said nobody was around the exhibit at the time it happened.

“We often have presence around the zoo, but it would be difficult to have people in every section as they’re trying to prevent something that’s this foolish,” Maloney said.

The Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens is accredited with the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums, Maloney said there’s all kinds of rules and regulations.

According to the AZA Jaguar Care Manual, it says care should be taken to ensure all spaces are “small enough to prevent a swipe or reach that contacts people or items on the other side. Jaguars are capable and adept at reaching through spaces even as small as 5 cm (2 in.)”

Action News Jax asked for the specific measurements of the zoo’s jaguar exhibit and was told the information isn’t available at this time, but told by officials their exhibit meets or exceeds standards.

“The area that’s designed is a sound area up to all standards and it’s an area that’s been effective for the last 18 years, 17 years,” Maloney said.

Malone promises the zoo is a safe place, saying this is a very rare situation and hopes all guests should be on their best behavior and respect all the animals when visiting.

“This kind of situation has never occurred in my 11 years here, I hope it never happens again,” Maloney said.