A two-year-old boy was mauled by a leopard at safari park in Thailand after his grandfather mistakenly left the cage door open.
Orr Burns and his family from Rishon LeTsiyon, Israel were on vacation in Koh Samui when visiting the park. The family had just finished an elephant ride before heading over to the Big Cat enclosure to take some photos with the leopard.
Mistakenly believing the leopard to be docile and ‘tourist friendly’, the boy’s granddad opened the door.
As the door opened, the six-year-old leopard – named Tony – burst out and pounced onto the boy’s mother before shifting his attention to the toddler.
The traumatised child sustained a fractured cheek bone and was photographed with blood pouring from his cheek.
His dad Rafi said the cat pinned his son to the ground as passers-by frantically tried to stop the attack, with some reportedly kicking the leopard in the head.
“The leopard is supposed to be drowsy, fuzzy and not aggressive. There should be a person next to the animal’s cage. There was no ambulance there and they didn’t know how to evacuate him.
We felt like we were helpless. I rushed to the cars and asked for him to be taken to the hospital. Everyone was scared and didn’t want to take. We didn’t believe such a disaster would happen.”
Orr’s uncle, Rafe Benvenisti added:
“We waited at the door and it was closed with a hook. Nobody knew what was behind the door, so one of the men opened the handle, and the tiger ran to the door and escaped. There were screams. [The leopard] jumped on Orr’s mother, passed under her feet then leapt at the child.
[The leopard] locked onto his face for four or five seconds. He didn’t release Orr until one of the locals kicked the tiger in the head. Everyone was shocked. We were looking for someone to take us to a hospital. We started screaming until someone drove a vehicle and took us.”
The terrified child was left screaming after the attack, and was rushed to hospital a found to have a fractured cheek bone.
“[The leopard] is supposed to be drugged and sleepy. People are supposed to be brought into it only after it is fed and asleep. That was not the case. Everyone who has visited Thailand has pictures with this tiger. It’s a normal thing to do.”
Naphat Pleumsut, the zoo’s executive advisor told reporters:
‘Tony is usually a[sic] very tame. During the incident, there were a lot of tourists, so I think that he panicked and ended up running into the toddler, who was in his path.’
He added that the zoo would be paying the medical costs for the boy:
”Relatives of the boy opened the door by mistake and they were not able to close it in time. The leopard then escaped.
Staff quickly responded and pushed the leopard back into the cage in under ten seconds.
Authorities from the safari park took the injured boy to Bangkok Hospital Samui. He had a wound on the face and a broken cheek bone. The zoo took care of every issue, including accommodation costs and medical fee, and co-ordinated with the insurance company.”
This attack comes after the two-year-old son of a worker at the Kruger National Park in South Africa was killed by a leopard in their living quarters in June.