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Sea lion mauls 11-year-old boy at Australian zoo

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SYDNEY (AP) — An 11-year-old boy was recovering Saturday after a sea lion mauled him at a popular Sydney zoo’s aquarium show as horrified visitors looked on.

The boy, identified by his stepmother as Jack Lister, had been invited by zookeepers to meet the 8-year-old female sea lion during the Taronga Zoo’s seal and sea lion show on Friday. After feeding the animal, Jack mistakenly followed it off the stage, which spooked it, zoo officials said.

The sea lion bit the boy and left several puncture wounds on his stomach. Jack had abdominal surgery Friday night and was in stable condition at a hospital.

Jack’s stepmother, Dalitta Wright, told Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph in a story published Saturday that the attack was sudden.

“I can only assume he was going for the smell of the fish. Jack pulled himself away and it then lunged for his back,” said Wright, whose family was visiting Sydney from the northeast city of Cairns. “It all happened so quickly. … It was quite traumatic.”

Zoo officials said the sea lion had never shown aggressive behavior before, and they were investigating the attack. The seal show was scheduled to continue Saturday, without the “encounter” portion of the program — and without the sea lion involved in the attack.

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