CARLSBAD, N.M. _ When 3-year-old Ethan Kennedy begins to tell people the story of being rescued from the mouth of a bobcat, it's not his active imagination. The youngster really did have a scary encounter with the wildcat.
He is recovering at home with a laceration to his eye and stitches to his skull, his mother, Courtney, said.
On Monday, Ethan, his mother and uncle, all from Carlsbad, visited the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. The mother refuted allegations that they crossed the double safety barrier and got too close to the bobcat's wire fence enclosure, allowing the animal to reach for Ethan.
"Ethan was in my arms and we were at the barrier. But we leaned over the barrier to look at the bobcat," she said. "I turned my head for a second and heard a noise and about the same time, my brother heard it. It happened real quick. The bobcat ripped Ethan out of my arms and had Ethan's head in his mouth. His paw ripped close to Ethan's eye. He suffered five deep lacerations."
Kennedy said she is "very offended" by a report on a television station about the incident in which she says park officials played down her son's injuries.
"They said on the news report that Ethan had some minor lacerations. They are not minor. He has deep cuts and could have lost his eye. His skin was torn," Kennedy said.
According to Carlsbad police Detective Jennifer Moyers, witnesses said the two adults and child apparently had stepped from the walkway, crossed the double safety barrier in front of the bobcat exhibit and got up close to the bobcat's enclosure.
"The child was there with his mother and uncle," Moyers said. "From what we have been told, the bobcat reached out with his paw and scratched the little boy on the forehead and head."
Alan Fiala, State Parks Division Southeast Region regional manager, said the information he was given was that Ethan suffered a minor scratch on his forehead and a deeper laceration on his head. He was taken to Carlsbad Medical Center, where he was treated and released.
No citations or charges have been filed.