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Florida Man Hospitalized After Putting His Hand Inside Jaguar Exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo

·1-min read
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

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A Florida man was hospitalized on Wednesday after he jumped over a gate and stuck his hand inside the jaguar exhibit at the Jacksonville Zoo.

The man was not identified, but Jacksonville Fire-Rescue told WJXT that he is in his 20s. He has non-life threatening injuries and is expected to survive.

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, when the man scaled a gate at the Range of the Jaguar exhibit.

He then put his hand inside the pen and was clawed by one of the jaguars, the deputy zoo director Dan Maloney told the news station.

One witness explained that the man appeared to be antagonizing the big cats before trying to make contact, WJXT reports.

"This is an individual that wasn't using his head," deputy zoo director Dan Maloney said, adding that luckily the animal was not able to latch onto the man's hand.

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Had the cat done so, "it would have been a very different story," Maloney warned.

This is the only time a visitor has been injured since the jaguar exhibit opened 11 years ago, WJXT reports.

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Officials reminded zoogoers that it is advised that they do not engage with animals or try to jump over fences put in place for their safety.

The Jacksonville Zoo did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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