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Zoo staffers use fire extinguisher to keep jaguars at bay after 3-year-old falls into exhibit

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Posted at 4:21 PM, Oct 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-10 16:21:55-04

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A three-year-old child is in critical condition after falling into an exhibit at a zoo in Little Rock, Ark. Friday morning.

Little Rock Zoo officials said that he child fell into the jaguar exhibit around 10:45 a.m.

Police were dispatched and zoo staffers called for additional workers over their two-way radios.

KTHV reports that as more staff members arrived, they used a fire extinguisher to keep the jaguars away from the child.

“Zoo staff were able to successfully keep the cats back while other zoo staff lowered a ladder into the exhibit,” Little Rock Zoo spokesperson Susan Altrui wrote in a news release.

According to the zoo, the three-year-old was conscious when a worker climbed down to pull the child from the enclosure. The child was then reunited with its mother and father and the three were taken to the zoo’s back gate on a golf cart. That’s where an ambulance was waiting for the child.

The three-year-old was transported to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

A spokesperson for the hospital said that the child was in critical condition.

Here’s the complete statement from the Little Rock Zoo:

A child fell into the jaguar exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo and has sustained injuries. At around 10:45 a.m. Zoo staff arrived at the jaguar exhibit and found that a toddler had fallen into the enclosure. Zoo staff responding at the jaguar exhibit immediately called for help over the radio and were assisted by other staff with a fire extinguisher to keep the cats away from the child. Zoo staff are trained to use fire extinguishers to safely overwhelm potentially dangerous animals if an incident like this were to occur. Zoo staff were able to successfully keep the cats back while other Zoo staff lowered a ladder into the exhibit. A Zoo staffer then climbed into the exhibit and retrieved the child who was conscious and responding. The child was then handed to the child’s father and both were taken by golf cart to the Zoo’s back gate entrance where the child was placed in an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the child and the family. The safety of our citizens is of paramount value and our staff followed training procedures on rescuing the child and were able to respond quickly and efficiently and work with emergency personnel,” Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore said. ” A full investigation into the incident is being conducted.”