BALTIMORE — Two jaguars at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo were in quarantine Monday after at least one of them attacked and critically injured an animal care worker.
The woman was attacked by a 200-lbs jaguar around 11 a.m. Sunday while cleaning in the interior den area of the jaguar enclosure, the zoo said in a statement.
The jaguar was supposed to be secure in another area of the cage but somehow made it back into the area where the employee was working. Co-workers heard the woman screaming and were able to use a fire extinguisher to get the jaguar off her.
When she called for help, staff moved the animals from the interior den to the exterior exhibit area, the statement said. The woman was given first aid by staff and emergency medical technicians before being brought to Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore.
The woman is in critical condition at a local hospital with injuries to her face, neck, arms and hands. Zoo officials are investigating the attack. The zoo is in Thurmont, about an hour outside Baltimore.
The worker suffered several bite wounds, according to Harold Domer, Frederick County Animal Control director. There was never any risk to anyone else, he said. The zoo is closed to the public for the season.
The attack occurred in an indoor area that has a steel door to the outside exhibit area.
Domer said the worker was attacked by a male jaguar weighing between 180 and 200 pounds. He said animal control workers did not know for sure if the second jaguar, a female, entered the indoor area or took part in the attack.
According to Domer, an inspection Monday showed the door "has several devices that allow the door to be locked." He called the safety precautions "extremely adequate." It was not clear how the male jaguar was able to pass through the door to the den.
Calls and e-mail requests for details from zoo officials Monday were not immediately returned.
The woman's name has not been released. Domer said that, as of Sunday evening, her condition was critical, but stable. A hospital spokeswoman did not immediately return a call Monday.