Man says he petted zoo cougars after calling 'Here, kitty'


DELAWARE, Ohio — An Ohio man who jumped a fence to pet cougars at the Columbus zoo and posted video on YouTube says he jokingly said "Here, kitty" and moved closer when the animals seemed to respond.

Thirty-five-year-old Joshua Newell of suburban Gahanna pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge Wednesday and was found guilty and fined $200.

Video posted last week showed an outer fence being jumped, then two cougars being petted through another fence as someone says, "Kitty, kitty, kitty."

Newell tells WBNS-TV the encounter lasted several minutes. He says he may have acted like an idiot but also questions the ease of access to the cats.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium officials say safety and animal welfare are top priorities, but they'd prefer not to change the exhibit.