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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from May 24-26

(Wildlife World Zoo Photo)

A baby jaguar born at a West Valley zoo, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s completion of the Crack Cancer challenge and an officer-involved shooting in Phoenix.

Here are some stories that headlined the news cycle, both locally and nationally, over the weekend.


Hello world! Baby jaguar born this week at West Valley zoo

A West Valley zoo welcomed a new member to its grounds Thursday — an adorable baby jaguar.

The yet-to-be-named healthy cub was born to Sara the jaguar at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park, carrying on the same black coloration as her mom.

Sara is receiving round-the-clock care at the Litchfield Park zoo while the baby has been enjoying bottles of formula. In the next few weeks, staff will introduce meat into her diet.

Sara spends 15 hours per day in her two-story habitat and will remain there full time once modifications are complete.

The jaguar species is considered “near threatened” by the World Wildlife Fund due to poaching and habitat destruction.


Arizona Sen. Sinema accepts Mac And Gaydos’ Crack Cancer challenge

Another popular Arizona figure has taken a raw egg to the face for a good cause.

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Saturday followed through on the Crack Cancer challenge, egging herself after being challenged by Mac Watson and Larry Gaydos of KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos show earlier in the week.

Sinema went on to challenge former Arizona politician Matt Salmon and Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Secretary of State.

The viral challenge was started as part of Brain Cancer Awareness month by the Willie Strong Foundation, which raises funds to find treatments for pediatric brain cancer.

The challenge is similar to the wildly successful Ice Bucket Challenge that raised money and awareness to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But instead of getting doused with ice water, participants have an egg cracked on their heads.


Retired Rio Verde deputy chief killed in Buckeye crash

Authorities have identified a man who died in a Saturday crash in Buckeye as a retired deputy fire chief.

According to the Buckeye Police Department, 59-year-old Dep. Chief Eric Merrill was killed Saturday morning following a two-vehicle collision at Palo Verde and Yuma roads.

His son was injured in the accident, but the injuries are considered not life threatening. There was no update on the second person hurt in the crash.

Merrill had recently retired two weeks ago from the Rio Verde Fire District where he had served the district for 15 years.

Before that, Merrill had worked with Rural Metro Fire. He had a 40-year career in fire service.


One suspect in critical condition following an officer-involved shooting

An officer-involved shooting ended with one suspect in critical condition and no injuries to the officers near the corner of 35th Avenue and Camelback Road in Phoenix on Sunday morning.

One male suspect was shot, following a pursuit on foot after one woman was detained as the two suspects left an abandoned car in a convenience store parking lot.

According to Phoenix Police Sargent Jamie Rothschild, officers originally pursued the suspects after noticing that their car did not have a license plate.

“It was later learned that the suspect had an outstanding felony arrest warrant for violating probation and was a prohibited possessor,” Rothschild said.

Around 1:20 a.m., police followed the vehicle into the parking lot.

Before the male suspect reached the business area, he had turned around, pointed a gun at the officer in pursuit and told the officer to shoot him.

According to Rothschild, the officer only fired when he considered the suspect a threat to the people in the business complex.


Fatal crashes in Arizona over Memorial Day weekend declining

Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest holiday periods to be on the road, but a new study finds Arizona is one of the only states seeing a decline in fatal crashes.

The study by 1Point21 Interactive, a data visualization firm, shows fatal crashes were up by nearly 19% nationally during the four-day holiday from 2012 to 2017.

“But in Arizona, it actually showed a 21% decrease – so a pretty significant difference,” said Brian Beltz, research lead and content manager at 1Point21 Interactive.

According to the study, there were more than 2,500 fatal crashes from 2012 to 2017. Of those, 46 occurred in Arizona.

The study, conducted using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, comes as Memorial Day weekend is already proving to be deadly on Arizona highways.

Five people died Friday in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 40 near Kingman. The crash shut down westbound traffic for several hours.

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