A three year-old boy is in a critical condition after falling into the jaguar enclosure in a zoo.
The little boy fell 15ft into the big cat pen and was grabbed by the neck and foot by two of the jaguars.
The toddler was visiting the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas with his father and grandfather, when the accident occurred yesterday morning.
It is reported that one of the big cats grabbed the three year-old by his neck, while the second jaguar clamped its jaws on his foot, biting him.
The toddler’s father and grandfather lobbed a water hose at the animals in a vain attempt to halt the attack, but the cats only let go of the little boy when quick-thinking zookeepers turned a fire extinguisher on them.
The tot was rushed to hospital where he is receiving treatment for a fractured skull, extensive scalp wounds and various puncture wounds and bite marks.
A spokesman for the City of Little Rock, Bruce Moore, explained that once the jaguars had let go of the toddler, zoo staff lowered a ladder into the enclosure to reach the him; the toddler was described as being “conscious and responding” when he was rescued.
Mr Moore went on: “Our thought 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.”