Monday, November 13, 2006

Florida zookeeper injured by leopard

Chrissy Littledale
ccresswell@pnj.com

At least one Leopard will change her spots.

Nineteen-year-old Adrienne Leopard, a zookeeper at the Zoo of Northwest Florida, was taken to a local hospital after she was injured by a leopard Monday morning.

Leopard was behind the exhibit near the animal's nighttime cage just before 9 a.m.

"She was too close to one of our big cats," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the zoo. The leopard snagged her sleeve with one of its claws and pulled her arm inside (the cage).

Leopard was treated for deep puncture wounds and lacerations to her hands at a local hospital and released.

"She was very anxious and embarrassed," Kemper said. "She kept saying, 'It's my fault. The leopard didn't do anything.'"

Kemper said the 2-year-old leopard is often given blankets and fabric toys and was likely only trying to play with the woman's jacket.

"He was just being playful," Kemper said. "But even when they don't intend to hurt us, they have all the tools to do so. (Our bodies) just can't stand up to it."

Kemper said although Leopard had worked in the area before, she was not authorized to be there at that time and was not following zoo protocol which requires zookeepers to use a buddy system in that area.

"She just simply made a mistake," Kemper said. "We are going to continue to support her and encourage her to move forward."

Kemper said he is sure the young zookeeper has learned a life lesson.

Leopard is expected to return to work on Thursday.

The leopard will also remain at the zoo.

http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ article?AID=/20061113/NEWS01/61113014

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