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Leopard Attacks First Grader at Wichita Zoo

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 09, 2011 12:44 PM

Imagine walking through your local zoo only to witness a leopard attack a visiting child.

Horrifying, right?

Well visitors at a Wichita zoo were treated to just that last week after a first grader hopped a fence separating visitors from the leopard's enclosure.

The unnamed student was on a school field trip at the Wichita zoo when the leopard attack occurred, reports The Wichita Eagle.

The location of his chaperones is unclear, but the paper reports that the boy walked up to the fence surrounding the enclosure after climbing over a 4-5 foot railing about 8 feet away.

The railing was meant to keep visitors from poking body parts into the enclosure.

When the boy approached, the leopard placed her paw through the fence, grabbing the boy's head. His injuries are not life threatening.

This isn't the first time a jungle cat has attacked a zoo visitor--before the Wichita leopard attack was the San Francisco tiger mauling.

That case, which the zoo settled for $900,000, appears to be quite different from this one.

In San Francisco, the tiger escaped from its enclosure, somehow leaping over the fence. It was also found that the enclosure was four feet shorter than the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommends, indicating that the zoo was negligent.

Here, there is evidence that the school was the negligent party, not the Wichita zoo.

It was the school's duty to supervise the child and make sure that he respected zoo rules. Its failure to meet the designated standard of care resulted in the child climbing a protective railing and approaching a dangerous animal.

So if there is a lawsuit, one should expect it to be against the school, not the zoo.

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