Original Coverage, May 6
A child is attacked by a leopard at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Paramedics rushed the seven-year-old to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis in 'critical' condition. He's since been upgraded to 'fair' condition.
The boy went over a railing at the Amur Leopard exhibit Friday afternoon while on a field trip. Eyewitnesses say the boy climbed over the first barrier and got too close to the enclosure and the cat.
Eyewitnesses say the leopard reached through the metal mesh, grabbed the boy's head and clawed him. The boy received deep scratches to his face and neck.
A man and woman kicked the cat away and joined others helping the boy until paramedics arrived. (Click for Eyewitness photos)
The boy is a first-grader at Linwood Elementary. His name has not been released.
The attack happened while students from several Wichita schools were on field trips. "One of our first-graders was injured by one of the animals," a letter that was sent home to parents of Linwood students read.
Additionally, other schools sent home letters to parents explaining what happened.
That letter said in part, "Many of our students witnessed the incident and were upset by it. We had staff and members talk with our students and reassure them that this was an accident and the student who was hurt was taken to the hospital."
Counselors will be available on Monday to offer additional help to students said USD 259 spokeswoman Susan Arensman.
A spokesperson for the zoo says this is the first time something like this has happened. The barrier the boy climbed over is between three and four feet tall. There is also gap betwen the first barrier and the enclosure.
There are no plans to euthanize the animal. The zoo says the leopard was simply being a leopard.
The zoo remained open for the rest of the day, but the section where the incident took place has been blocked off.