NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 5/6/2011 5:44:00 PM ET 2011-05-06T21:44:00

A 7-year-old boy was hospitalized Friday after being attacked by a leopard at the Wichita zoo, Kansas media reported.

The child, a Linwood Elementary student who was on a school outing to Sedgwick County Zoo, had climbed over a four-foot railing separating the Amur leopard exhibit from the public, zoo officials told The Wichita Eagle.

The animal used both paws to grab the child's head through an enclosure opening and tried to bite him, Assistant Zoo Director Jim Marlett told the newspaper.

The 4-year-old leopard was in an enclosure covered by mesh fencing, which has 4-by-6-inch openings, according to The Wichita Eagle. The leopard was able to reach through the openings.

A sign outside the enclosure reads: "DANGEROUS ANIMALS: Please respect their space by staying on your side of the guardrail."

Visitors riding on a zoo tram witnessed the event and jumped off and scared off the leopard, which released the boy.

The child suffered face and neck injuries. Zoo officials said the child was conscious when he was taken to the hospital and his injuries were not life-threatening, KSNW-TV reported. He was upgraded to fair condition.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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