A man has been cited for trespassing near the tiger enclosure at Denver Zoo. Police had initially claimed that Matthew Swearingen breached the fence at the lion paddock but they were corrected by zoo officials.
Initial reports from Denver Police Department on Monday (3 April) said Swearingen been detained on 18 March after jumping into the lion exhibit at Denver Zoo.
According to police, the 34-year-old jumped into the compound, "touched a lion", and then jumped back out again.
However, late last night, Denver Zoo was forced to issue a statement of correction. It said: "On March 18, a man climbed a public barrier fence, from the public pathway, of Denver Zoo's new tiger exhibit, The Edge, and jumped to touch a sleeping tiger in the overhead catwalk.
"The individual never accessed the exhibit and neither he, nor the tiger, were harmed. The individual was removed by the Denver Police Department and charged with trespassing."
Later, Denver police acknowledged that "the animal was a tiger not a lion" in a Facebook post correcting their mistake. Swearingen was cited rather than arrested so there is no police picture available to identify him with.
Denver Zoo added: "The safety of Denver Zoo's guests, animals and staff is our top priority and we take these matters very seriously. Clearly identifiable barriers, including signage and fencing, are in place throughout the Zoo and our safety officers are on site 24 hours a day.
"In light of this incident, Denver Zoo is currently evaluating this area to determine if anything additional needs to be done to discourage this illegal behavior from happening again."
Last month a newborn giraffe at Denver Zoo had to receive a plasma transfusion because she had problems standing and feeding.