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Ohio zookeeper injured in cheetah attack

The victim was taken to a hospital and later released after the attack at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Isabelle, a 4-year-old cheetah at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Isabelle, a 4-year-old cheetah at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.Amanda Carberry / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
/ Source: NBC News

An Ohio zookeeper is recovering after a cheetah attack Thursday.

The incident occurred at about 9:55 a.m. when two Columbus Zoo and Aquarium staff members were walking Isabelle, a 4-year-old cheetah, with a harness from her facility in the Heart of Africa area to a behind-the-scenes yard for her routine exercise.

The zookeeper was walking on the same path, the zoo said. After Isabelle sat and appeared to be calm, the caretakers invited the zookeeper to come closer, according to officials.

But when the zookeeper approached, Isabelle crouched down and lunged toward the victim, the zoo said.


Officials said the scent of the zookeeper, who works with giraffes and other hoofstock, may have triggered Isabelle to attack. Zoo officials did not identify the zookeeper or the extent of the victim's injuries, citing privacy concerns.

The Liberty Township Fire Department was quickly called by staff members, and the injured zookeeper was provided treatment on-site. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation and later released.

The incident was Isabelle's first documented attack, according to authorities. The cheetah was immediately placed under a 30-day quarantine to ensure no signs of illness, the zoo said.

Zoo officials said Isabelle shared a "close bond with her care team" and that she was up to date with her vaccinations.


Isabelle came to the zoo in February 2017 with her sisters Ophelia and Luciana, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium oversees more than 10,000 animals from around the world.

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