A three-year-old got much cozier with wildlife than his parents intended at an Oklahoma zoo recently. The boy was watching the swans with his sister when he wandered off, walked under a rope barrier and over a low retaining wall, and approached the cage of a lynx named Freya. The 45-pound animal reached through the fence and swatted at the boy’s head, drawing blood but not seriously injuring him.
The director of the Little River Zoo (pictured with a lynx similar to the one that scratched the little boy) has said that the lynx will be monitored by a veterinarian for potential dangerousness, but that she believes the cat was just trying to play. Freya has also been moved to an inside enclosure, around which a solid fence has been built.
Although the boy recovered quickly from both his tears and the wound, I wonder how, if at all, the experience will affect him later on. Most of us know someone with a dog phobia due to one bad experience as a child. There are certainly worse things than having a deeply-ingrained fear of full-grown lynxes, but I think it’s likely the fear could extend to other animals as well. In any case, I’m glad that no one is playing the blame game here, and everyone is just relieved that the boy was not seriously hurt.