A brave Colorado mother fought off a mountain lion that was mauling her five-year-old son as he played in the garden. According to reports the child had been playing with his brother when the cat pounced on Friday 17 June.

After hearing the child screaming she rushed into the garden, in Pitkin County, north-west Aspen, where she found the animal mauling her son. The woman "was able to physically remove her son from the mountain lion" said Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.

The boy, who has not been named, was taken to Children's Hospital in Denver with head, neck and face injuries and said to be in "fair condition". His mother was treated for minor injuries in Aspen Valley Hospital before being released.

"The boy sustained injuries to his face, head and neck," according to the statement by the Sheriff's Office. "The mother sustained minor injuries to her hand and legs."

They added that officers from the US Forest Service spotted a mountain lion, also called cougars, in the front yard of the property and put the animal down. Adult male mountain lions usually measure longer than two metres in length and feed on a range of other animals including deer, moose and coyote.

According to official statistics there have been two fatalities related to mountain lion attacks in Colorado since 1991 with 16 people injured by the cougars since 1970. In July 2015 a young lion attacked a man whilst fishing in a remote area in northwest Colorado, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department said.

Fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America have been recorded in more than 100 years and in a similar example a California mountain lion attacked a six-year-old boy in 2014. The boy's father defended his son after the large cat attacked "out of nowhere" and dragged him away at the Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve, near the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino.

The incident comes the same day as Walt Disney World decided they will put up alligator warning signs after an attack left a two-year-old boy dead. Lane Graves, from Nebraska, was found dead by a dive team on Wednesday 15 June.