6-Year-Old Girl Attacked by Mountain Lion — and Then Rescued by Adult Who Punches Animal

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6-Year-Old Girl Attacked by Mountain Lion — and Then Rescued by Adult Who Punches Animal
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  • Brad Pennington
    American baseball player

A leisurely Sunday hike went terribly wrong for a little girl who was attacked by a mountain lion in front of her parents.

The Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve in Santa Clara County, California remains closed after the terrifying incident, which unfolded on Sunday morning around 10 a.m., according to a statement from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space.

In the initial release on their website, the preserve’s spokesperson said that a child had been attacked by a wild animal on the trail. By Monday, officials had confirmed that the animal was, in fact, a mountain lion.

“A Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District ranger provided first aid to a child who was injured by a mountain lion while walking on a trail about two miles from the main parking area,” the spokesperson wrote.

“The mountain lion was scared away by adults who were with the child. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department also responded,” the statement continued. “The child was treated on-scene for minor injuries and released to parental care. ”

Mountain lion | Getty
Mountain lion | Getty

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Prior to confirming the animal’s breed, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Midpen rangers said they were “investigating the incident and attempting to locate and positively identify the mountain lion.”

“Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve is closed until further notice, and will reopen when the investigation is finished and Midpen determines it is safe to do so,” officials added.

Speaking to ABC affiliate KGO, MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District ranger Brad Pennington confirmed that the victim was a 6-year-old girl who was walking with her parents, four other adults, and four children when the attack happened.

Pennington said the mountain lion came darting out of the bushes to attack the girl, who was eventually saved by one of those adults after they fearlessly punched the animal in the ribs.

“It came out of the bushes and right about when it grabbed a hold of the girl and an adult pushed the mountain lion and it ran off,” Pennington told KGO, adding that her injuries included “a couple punctured wounds to her calf.”

“She was also treated for minor first aid and then her parents took her to the hospital,” Pennington told the outlet.

Following the attack, authorities have been using four specialized dogs to capture the mountain lion, which they believe is about 160 lbs., according to KGO.

Once captured, they will run DNA tests on the girl and wild animal to confirm its identity before determining what to do with it, Captain Todd Tognazzini with the Department of Fish and Wildlife told the outlet.

“We will immobilize the cat and put it in a large trap so it come to it. But prior to that, we will take DNA samples from it so we can make sure we have the correct cat,” Tognazzini said. “I know that we wouldn’t leave the cat here.”

RELATED VIDEO: 4-Year-Old Girl Survives Mountain Lion Attack During Camping Trip: ‘He Had My Daughter in His Mouth’

Park rangers told KGO that on the day of the attack, the preserve had filled its parking lot with 300 cars, making it one the busiest days of the season.

Despite the influx of visitors, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space spokesperson said mountain lions typically do not attack humans.

“Mountain lions live throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains region and generally are not a threat to people,” the spokesperson explained. “Most avoid areas of human activity and are easily scared off by loud noises. Seeing a mountain lion is rare and an encounter like this is very unusual.”

Though officials work to “minimize conflicts between wildlife and people,” there are cases like Sunday’s where visitors may encounter a mountain lion.

In those events, officials advise people to stay calm, “make yourself large and loud,” and slowly back away from the wild animal, before reporting the sighting to the preserve’s rangers.