FRESNO (CBS SF) — A man who jumped several fences at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo was bitten by a lion before being taken into custody, authorities said Thursday.
Julio Mendez — who was cited for trespassing — told police he was trying to elude a man who was chasing him late Wednesday night. He climbed over a barbed wire fence, jumped over a construction fence, hopped over another hurdle and went on to start climbing a tall fence at the zoo.
According to Fresno TV affiliate KGPE, that’s when he was bit on the foot by a lion.
Police told the station they got a call shortly after 11 p.m. from a security guard at the zoo saying a man had climbed onto zoo property and was bit by a lion on a toe on his left foot through the fence.
“They were never in with the lions,” said zoo director Scott Barton. “The injury occurred through the mesh and we don’t know whether they were antagonising the lion or anything – we don’t know what that behavior was.”
The security guard was able to help the man get to safety and then called police.
When police arrived, Mendez received medical attention and they came up empty in the search for the man chasing him. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The lion was not injured.