Posted at: 04/11/2013 7:24 PM
By: Amber LaVail, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Photo: Courtney Hutchins
A woman in Carlsbad has been arrested on child abuse charges after she held her son past the zoo's protective barrier leading to his attack by a bobcat.
Investigators say 22-year-old Courtney Hutchins hopped the barrier with her son trying to get closer to the bobcats.
According to the criminal complaint, Hutchins' brother, the boy’s uncle, told police they were petting the cats. But a bobcat reached out with its paw, grabbed the boy by the head and pulled him towards the fence.
The boy needed eight staples in his head to close the wound.
The only way to get around the barrier is to climb over it. The railing and the fence are separated by a two foot gap filled with cactus.
Zoo officials say if you stay behind the barrier you should be safe.
“We have placed many signs up to let people know to stay behind the barrier,” says zoo official Holly Payne.
Hutchins says she did not see any of the signs.
She has been arrested and charged with child abuse.
"If she was putting him in that situation then it is her own fault if he ends up getting hurt," one parent said.
Most families said they would be scared to cross the barrier because, "they could jump at you" or "could take their paw and scratch you."
"We would never jump over the railing because they will scratch you just like the little boy with scratches on the face - he got too close," says a four-year-old girl.
Before arresting Hutchins, investigators said they pulled the fence out as far as possible allowing them to investigate if the bobcat could have pushed the fence to reach the boy on the other side of the barrier.