A 14-year-old boy has narrowly escaped having his leg torn off by a jaguar after the predator latched onto his leg when he crossed a security barrier at a zoo.
He was only spared from a potentially fatal mauling when his shoe fell off, distracting the beast, giving him time to escape its razor sharp claws.
The teenager, named as José in local media, was shown with injuries to his left leg in video footage following his extremely dangerous encounter.
The jaguar pounced on the boy’s leg after he allegedly crossed a security barrier and stuck it through the bars of the animal’s cage.
Luckily for the reckless teen, the big cat only succeeded in taking his shoe, rather than his whole leg, allowing him time to run away.
After his trainer was pulled into the enclosure, a second jaguar attempted to grab the shoe, much to the dismay of the first, who seemed hell-bent on keeping its new chew toy.
José sustained cuts to his left foot after the jaguar scaled the wall of its enclosure and stuck its mouth through the metal bars to bite at him. A photo later shared by the family on social media reportedly showed the teen’s foot missing a large chunk of the skin.
Zoo Leon, which has been open since 1979 and houses more than 1,000 animals of 180 species, issued a statement following the incident.
A spokesperson confirmed that the boy had indeed been attacked by a jaguar, but said he was in stable condition following the speedy arrival of paramedics on the scene.
Zoo workers also provided first aid in the immediate aftermath as medics made their way to the scene.
The zoo offered to help the boy’s family with their medical costs but officials reiterated the importance of following the rules.
“It is important to mention that there are signs on display [advising visitors] to not to violate the security barriers, this to safeguard the integrity and security of our visitors, as well as the zoo’s animals, ” the spokesperson added.