Cougar petter: “That was a very bad decision.”

WESTERVILLE (WCMH) — The 35-year-old man who crossed a fence to pet some cougars last week said he wishes he had never done it.

“That was a very bad decision” said Josh Newell. “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 just jumped over and petted them.”

Newell was pressed with criminal trespassing charges by the Columbus Zoo after video showed him jumping a barrier to pet two adult cougars in the North America region of the zoo.

Zoo officials said the cougars are geriatric and used to being around people, but those barriers Newell crossed are meant to keep animals and visitors safe.

RELATED STORY: Zoo presses charges against man who jumped barrier, petted cougars

“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,” Newell said.

Newell is due in court on Wednesday. He knows he’s going to be fined; he just hopes he’s not banned from the zoo.

“I’ve thought about reaching out to them to do some volunteer work or donations, anything I can do to help them out,” he said.

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