A five-year-old boy has survived an attack by a mountain lion after his mother managed to fight off the creature.
The boy had been playing with his brother outside his home in the Colorado mountains on Friday evening when the cat pounced, according to reports.
His mother allegedly heard screams and rushed into the backyard of the family home in northwest Aspen, where she found the creature on top of her son, said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The woman “was able to physically remove her son from the mountain lion” before the boy’s father drove his son to hospital, the sheriff added.
The child was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver, but is said to be in “fair condition”.
Meanwhile, his mother was treated for minor injuries in Aspen Valley Hospital and then released, according to the Denver Post.
Internet users have expressed their reactions to the attacks on social media, with many praising the woman for saving her son.
“Mother’s from Colorado are just another breed of awesome, go momma mountain lion beater,” said Peter Mercer on Facebook.
Others expressed concern for the well-being of wild animals, suggesting that many attacks are a result of their habitat being destroyed.
“I feel that humans have taken over so much territory, we built our homes on animals natural habitats and destroyed their homes,” said Alejandra Hernandez on Facebook.
“Of course these animals are wandering around everywhere, they’re hungry they need to survive.”
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website offers advice on what residents should do if they encounter a mountain lion.
The main tips are to “not approach”, “stay calm” and “do all you can to appear larger”.
It proceeds to advise people to “throw stones” if the lion behaves aggressively and “fight back” if a lion attacks.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said there have been two, possibly three, fatalities related to mountain lion attacks in the state since 1991, while some 16 people have been injured by cougars since 1970.
The last known attack in the state occurred in July 2015 when a young lion attacked a man as he fished in a remote area in northwest Colorado, the wildlife department said.
But the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website states that “lion attacks on people are rare”, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.
The incident comes days after a two-year-old boy was attacked and killed by an alligator in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The boy’s father had unsuccessfully tried to wrestle his son from the alligator’s grasp, and the child’s body was later recovered in the lake by police divers.