A female staff member suffered scratch wounds on her head and arms Tuesday when a black panther attacked her through a fence in a zoo in the southwestern city of Kagoshima, the zoo operator said.

The woman in her 20s was observing the panther at feeding time through a gap in the steel fence at Hirakawa Zoological Park when the incident occurred at around 3:20 p.m. She was taken to a hospital and her injuries were deemed non-life-threatening.

According to the zoo operator, the meter-long female panther jumped toward the fence and reached its paws through the gap to attack the worker on duty. The staff member is usually in charge of rhinos, but was in training to take care of panthers.

In a previous incident that took place at the zoo in October 2018, a 40-year-old zookeeper died after a 1.8-meter-long white tiger mauled him in its cage.

Akira Fukumori, head of the zoological park, apologized for the latest incident at a press conference later in the day. "Although we have taken countermeasures following the previous accident, we feel sorry as our steps fell short," he said.

Noting that he had urged the worker not to get too close to the fence, Fukumori said he will consider additional measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.