A six-year-old girl was saved in the nick of time from being mauled and dragged off by a mountain lion in a California park when a hero leaped to the rescue and punched the 160-pound cat in the ribs.
The little girl was attacked by the wild animal in the Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve in Santa Clara County on Sunday morning.
The attack took place just before 10am when the girl was walking through the busy park with her parents in a group of six adults and four children, on what park rangers said was one of the busiest days of the season.
MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District ranger Brad Pennington told ABC News the mountain lion appeared out of the bushes and launched at the child, clawing at her leg.
The little girl was attacked by the wild animal as she was walking through the Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve in Santa Clara County, California (above) on Sunday morning
MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District ranger Brad Pennington (above) told ABC News the mountain lion appeared out of the bushes and launched at the child, clawing at her leg
One of the adults in the group punched the 160-pound wild cat (like the one above) in the ribs and it ran off
Sunday’s incident comes after the park has been forced to close twice in the last six months, following sightings of the dangerous animals
‘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,’ he said.
One of the adults in the group punched the 160-pound wild cat in the ribs and it ran off, according to KGO.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department were called to the scene and closed the park immediately.
Around 300 cars-worth of people were alerted to leave the park, as visitors had flocked to it that day.
The little girl was treated for first aid at the scene and was taken to hospital for treatment for minor injuries, including puncture wounds to her calf.
She is expected to make a full recovery.
Visitors spoke of their fear after hearing about the attack.
Evelyn Horng told KGO that sightings of mountain lions are common but the attack was worrying.
A photo taken in 2018 of a female mountain lion and her cubs on the same preserve where the attack took place
Authorities are now trying to track down and capture the mountain lion, said Cpt. Todd Tognazzini with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (above)
‘There are mountain lions that wander around here once in a while. It’s usually in the dark and not during the day,’ she said.
Sunday’s incident comes after the park was forced to close back in August, after a family of at least three mountain lions was spotted near a trail, sparking safety concerns.
Authorities are now trying to track down and capture the mountain lion, which is thought to be an adult male.
‘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,’ said Cpt. Todd Tognazzini with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
‘I know that we wouldn’t leave the cat here.’
A warning has been posted on the park’s website advising visitors what to do if they encounter a mountain lion.
‘If you see a mountain lion do not run; slowly back away, leave the area and report the sighting to a Midpen ranger at 650-691-2165,’ it states.
Visitors are warned to not hike, bike or jog alone, to keep a watch on small children and to not wear headphones.
The park is a popular hotspot for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and for people to gather for BBQs and picnics.
It remains closed until further notice.