go to content

A Man Is Facing Charges After Filming Himself Jumping Into A Zoo Cougar Exhibit To Pet Them

The self-proclaimed animal lover told local media the big cats seemed like they just "wanted some love."

Posted on

A YouTube user identified by WCMH-TV as Josh Newell uploaded the video last week of himself yelling "Here, kitty kitty," as he petted two cougars at an exhibit at the Columbus Zoo.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

The video has received thousands of views, but unfortunately for Newell was also seen by zoo officials.

The zoo said in a press release on Friday that it is pressing charges against Newell for criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor, in the incident.

"Animal welfare and safety are two of our top priorities" Tom Stalf, the president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo, said. "Barriers, like the fence line at the cougar habitat, are in place to keep our guests and animals safe. The actions taken in this video were alarming and resulted in our decision to press charges."

After the charges were announced, Newell told WCMH-TV that he regretted the illegal petting.

instagram.com

However, he said he meant the animals no harm.

“That was a very bad decision” the 35-year-old told the station. “If I had to do it over I definitely would have stayed within the barrier boundaries. I was thinking I’m an animal lover. The cats were looking like they wanted some love and [I] just jumped over and petted them.”

He also admitted he was lucky he still has his hand.

instagram.com

"I wouldn't want any harm to come to the animals for biting me if it happened that way, so let's just be thankful I'm still in one piece," he said.

Newell is due in court next week, and will face fines, according to WCMH-TV.

He told the TV station he is very concerned he will also be punished by being banned from the zoo, and said he is willing to do whatever he can to make sure that doesn't happen.

Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Stephanie McNeal at stephanie.mcneal@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.