Animal Rights

Ohio Zoo Presses Charges Against Man Who Filmed Himself Hopping Zoo Fence To Pet Cougars

| by Mackenzie Fleming

An Ohio zoo has pressed charges against a man who allegedly filmed himself jumping over zoo barriers to pet cougars in an exhibit. The man posted the video seen below to YouTube earlier this week.

Since the footage appeared online, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced that the Delaware County Sheriff’s office has charged the suspect. According to Sherriff’s spokeswoman Tracy Whited, a 35-year-old man identified as Joshua Newell was served Friday with a summons to appear in court, FOX News reported.

The video shows Newell first hopping an outer fence of the big cat enclosure at the zoo. He is then seen petting two cougars while a voice speaks to the animals saying, “Kitty, kitty, kitty.”

Zoo officials said it was fortunate that neither the man nor the cougars were harmed, Sky News reported.

Columbus Zoo CEO Tom Stalf called the incident and the footage “alarming.” Stalf announced in a statement that animal welfare and safety are the zoo’s two top priorities, Telegraph reported. 

“Barriers, like the fence line at the cougar habitat, are in place to keep our guests safe. The actions in this video were alarming and resulted in our decision to press charges,” Stalf said, according to Telegraph. 

Newell was charged by the Sheriff’s office with a misdemeanor count of trespassing. He is due to appear in court Wednesday, according to FOX News.

Source: Sky News, AP via FOX News, Telegraph

Photo credit: Telegraph

Video credit: Sky News via YouTube