The mother of a five-year-old boy tackled a mountain lion with her bare hands after the wild animal dragged her son across his front lawn in southern California.
The 30kg animal attacked the child as he was playing near his house in Calabasas, dragging him about 45 yards, according to a spokesman from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
His mother, who was inside the house when the attack began, is a “true hero” because she “absolutely saved her son’s life”, Captain Patrick Foy said.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” he added.
The boy suffered what are described as traumatic injuries to his head and upper torso but is in a stable condition in a Los Angeles hospital, Mr Foy said.
After his parents drove him to hospital, a wildlife officer was sent to the scene.
The big cat was crouching in some bushes with its “ears back” and was “hissing” at the officer, Mr Foy said.
“Due to its behaviour and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on site,” the wildlife department said in a statement.
DNA tests subsequently confirmed it was the animal that had assaulted the boy.
Another mountain lion, spotted in the same area, was tranquilized and released back into the wild after also being tested.