CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A 24-year-old North Ridgeville man is facing criminal trespassing charges after an incident at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Sunday afternoon.
Cleveland Metroparks Police say Jacob Scott Lane is the man caught on camera getting a little too close to a snow leopard.
Chris Kuhar, the zoo’s executive director, says he climbed his way up the side of a building and started filming the animal with his cell phone.
“When you cross those barriers, you put your safety at risk and you put the animal’s safety at risk. Snow leopards are completely enclosed in a steel siding tunnel in the exhibit, so the individual didn’t actually get into the exhibit, but was close to the mesh,” said Kuhar.
Kuhar went on to say, “Claws can go through, the teeth can go through, if you get close to a barrier like that, you put yourself in harm’s way and so the animal could also get injured, get its claws stuck, get a tooth stuck, could react negatively and run away.”
There are signs throughout the zoo warning visitors to keep their distance and that they may be prosecuted for trespassing. “This was obviously not an accidental situation, this was a purposeful decision,” said Kuhar.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has taken measures to avoid potential accidents.
Kuhar says while they were in the process of changing their barrier systems throughout the zoo, they had a scare in 2015.
You may remember, a two-year-old boy fell into the cheetah exhibit. His mother was charged with endangering children. Witnesses said she was dangling him over the railing when he slipped. His leg was injured in the fall, but the animals didn’t approach him.