WICHITA, KS (NBC) - A 7-year-old boy was seriously injured Friday at Kansas' Sedgwick County Zoo when a leopard reached out of its cage, mauling him.
It happened Friday around 1:30 p.m.
Zoo officials say the boy climbed over the exterior guard rail around the leopard cage, then climbed onto the interior fence, where the leopard attacked from inside the cage.
A sign outside the enclosure reads: "DANGEROUS ANIMALS: Please respect their space by staying on your side of the guardrail."
Witnesses say the animal grabbed the boy around the head with both paws.
A woman, who was on the zoo's tram nearby, saw the attack and was able to come to the child's aid.
"The leopard's paws are through the cage it has its claws into the little boy's face, and is gnawing into its head and its neck," said Vanessa Quarles, who witnessed the attack. "So by that time people are noticing a man and a women everyone screaming 'stop the train, stop the train,' and a man and a woman run over, jump off the train, then they kick the leopard."
The child has face and neck injuries, and zoo officials say the child was conscious when he was taken to the hospital.
He has since been upgraded to fair condition at a Wichita hospital.
His injuries are not life threatening.
There were several school groups attending the zoo at the time of the attack.
The school district sent a letter home with children who were at the zoo or may have heard about the attack.
"The safety of our students is our main concern," the letter said. "This afternoon, an incident occurred while our first grade classes were at the Sedgwick County Zoo. One of our first-grade students was injured by one of the animals. He has been taken to the hospital and is expected to be okay."
"Many of our students witnessed the incident and were upset by it. We had staff and members talk with our students and reassure them that this was an accident and the student who was hurt has been taken care of and will be okay." The letter is signed by the Linwood Principal, Trinna Wynn.
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