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American boy attacked by wild cat at Belize Zoo #468633
07/20/13 05:05 AM
07/20/13 05:05 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,923
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

This Morning a US news article spoke of a ten year old American boy who was attacked by a wild cat while on vacation in Belize. According to the article, the young boy, along with his parents, visited the Belize Zoo, which is where the incident occurred. He reached out over the fence of an ocelot, known locally as a “tiger-cat”. The child was trying to touch the animal’s fur when it turned around and clamped its jaws on the little boy’s fingers and, as the article stated, would not let go until pried away. Today we contacted the Belize Zoo and while we could not reach the person in charge, we spoke to one of their employees who confirmed that “something like that did happen”. He told us, however, that ocelots are caged in electric fences, as are all their animals, and are not allowed any interactions with the public. The little boy, he said, petted the animal on his own accord, contrary to the rules of the zoo. Meanwhile, the child has told US media that he is trying to raise monies to assist the Belize Zoo to make it safer for children.


O.C. Boy Attacked by Ocelot on Vacation in Belize

Ronald Altender, 10, is receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital Orange County.

A young boy was recovering at a local hospital on Friday after he was attacked by an Ocelot while on vacation in Central America.

Ronald Altender, 10, was on vacation with his family in Belize when they stopped to visit a zoo.

Ronald reached out to pet the wild cat behind a fence, and that’s when his mother said she heard screaming.

“I just lightly touched the fur that was over the fence and it bit my thumb and pulled on it,” Ronald said.

“I heard, ‘Mommy! Mommy! Help me!’” Holly Altender said.

“The cat just pulled the arm through the fence and got ahold of his finger, and it would not release,” she said.

Ronald was rushed to a hospital, and is now receiving additional treatment at Children’s Hospital Orange County.

Despite the incident, he said he is not afraid of cats, and he even wants to raise money to make the zoo safer for other kids.

Anyone who wants to donate to the animal sanctuary can visit:


Re: American boy attacked by wild cat at Belize Zoo [Re: Marty] #468665
07/20/13 10:28 AM
07/20/13 10:28 AM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,465
San Pedro, Belize
Judyann H. Offline
Judyann H.  Offline
Could we re-write the headline to be more accurate?....."an unsupervised child invaded the space of a wild animal"....

My friends call me Judyann
Re: American boy attacked by wild cat at Belize Zoo [Re: Marty] #468668
07/20/13 11:16 AM
07/20/13 11:16 AM
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 7,030
San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye...
Amanda Syme Offline

Amanda Syme  Offline
Precisely what I thought. I love the zoo the way it is. It is nice that the boy now wants to raise money to change our zoo so that it will be more difficult for children to jam their arms into the cages to reach the animals, but what about those of us that relish being able to be so close to the animals....

Re: American boy attacked by wild cat at Belize Zoo [Re: Amanda Syme] #468670
07/20/13 11:47 AM
07/20/13 11:47 AM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,000
ragman Offline
ragman  Offline
I too love the Zoo as is and any changes are minimal. My experiences there where magnified by being able to be so close to the animals. It is a wonderful place to visit and I can't help myself anytime I'm driving by to stop for a few hours.

Also, I can't imagine not supervising a child very closely there. Hopefully there wasn't permanent damage to the child's thumb and the parents learned a lesson.

Formerly from somewhere on a beach in Belize
Re: American boy attacked by wild cat at Belize Zoo [Re: Marty] #468927
07/25/13 04:51 AM
07/25/13 04:51 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,923
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP
To Whom It May Concern: The Belize Zoo would like to address the incident involving a youngster who was bitten by our ocelot, “Ollie”, as this has received much attention. An ocelot is a wild cat, native to Belize, and is considered to be a small-to-medium in size, weighing about 20-25 lbs. To clarify what occurred last Monday at the zoo, please read the points below.

Sharon Matola, Founding Director


1. A young boy, approximately ten years old, along with his mother and other family members, visited “Ollie” the ocelot.
2. There were no zookeepers present. The youngster, put his hand inside the ocelot exhibit, seemingly to “pet” the cat.
3. In order to do this, he had to go to the effort of crossing over a wooden barrier, as well as ignoring the small mesh fence, placed there to keep people from putting hands in the exhibit.
4. Having crossed the barrier, and ignoring the other fence precaution, he put his hand in. The ocelot bit his thumb.
5. This was brought to the attention of Animal Management Supervisor, Humberto Wohlers, who applied first aid to the bite immediately.
6. Animal Management Supervisor, Tony Garel, drove the youngster, Ronald Altender, and his mother, Holly Altender, to Medical Associates in Belize City.
7. He was examined by Dr. Idelfonso Roberts. Dr. Roberts said that the wound was not serious. The thumb had movement, so no nerves were damaged, and no bones were broken.
8. Upon return to the United States, Holly Altender telephoned Tony Garel stating that her son was okay and thanking him for his assistance. She felt that the ocelot bite had happened partly due to the fact that Ronald is challenged by autism. She felt that the enclosure should be more “child safe”.
9. All of us at The Belize Zoo regret the inconvenience that the Altender’s experienced. However, there is a wooden barrier as well as small mesh fencing to strongly discourage the type of actions noted in this incident.
10. There are signs up in the zoo stating the big safety rule to “STAY BEHIND BARRIERS” and to “KEEP ALL BODY PARTS OUT OF EXHIBITS”
11. As people enter the zoo, the Entry zoo guard also states these rules to incoming guests.

In thirty years of being in operation, no incident such as the above, has ever occurred at The Belize Zoo. If our visitors respect our rules and guidelines, and understand that both signs and visible barriers are there for a purpose, which is to ensure the safety of both guests and our animals, then accidents, such as what is described above, will not occur.

Due to this incident, TBZ will be placing more signs warning guests to keep body parts out of exhibits and also, to respect barriers. In addition, we are developing a “safety flyer” which will be available as a souvenir, upon visitor entry to the zoo.

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