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Probe Opened Into Leopard Attack on Boy

Moscow region investigators opened a criminal case Monday into a leopard attack on a 7-year-old boy at a traveling circus.

Investigators said the boy, the son of circus employees, was bitten and mauled by a 10-year-old female leopard as it was being prepared for travel after a Saturday night show in the town of Domodedovo, just south of Moscow.

Federal investigators said in a previous statement that a cheetah had attacked the boy, but their regional colleagues identified the animal as a leopard.

The leopard bit the boy's face and neck, leading to a serious loss of blood, said the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee.

The boy, who was admitted to the local Filatov Children's Hospital at 9 p.m., underwent several hours of emergency surgery and remained in serious condition Monday.

Investigators said in a statement that they were looking into whether lax safety and health standards might have played a role in the incident. No one has been charged with wrongdoing.

The investigation will make "a legal assessment of the actions of those responsible for the animals and the safety of staff and visitors," committee spokeswoman Irina Gunneyeva told Interfax.

A similar attack in July 2011 in which a young girl was attacked by leopard at a Smolensk zoo resulted in no charges after authorities found that Russian law gives no clear instructions about criminal liability concerning wild animals, including those from a circus.

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