A tiger “nearly tore” off the arm of a volunteer at a big cat sanctuary in Florida that featured in the Netflix series Tiger King. Candy Crouser, 69, a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue, the animal refuge made famous by Tiger King character Carole Baskin – was injured on Thursday.
In a statement, the sanctuary said Ms Crouser was hurt after Kimba, a male tiger rescued from Guatemala, bit her, she broke protocols by sticking her hand into his cage, it added. Ms Crouser, who had been with the sanctuary for five years, had arrived for feeding to find that the tiger was “locked in a section that was away from where he was usually fed”, the statement said, after reaching inside to unlatch a door, the tiger “grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder”. The statement added: “Candy said she just wasn’t thinking when she reached in to un-clip it [the door].” Bystanders used a belt as a tourniquet, and packed ice around Ms Crouser’s arm in an effort to save it. Ambulance workers arrived to transport her to hospital in around 20 minutes, the statement adds.
Ms Crouser was still conscious after the attack, “and insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake”. The organisation added that her arm had been broken in three places and that her shoulder had been “badly damaged”. The tiger is being kept in quarantine for 30 days as a precaution, Big Cat Rescue said, adding, “but [he] was just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity”. The incident came as the US House of Representatives passed a law 272-114 on Thursday that would ban private big cat ownership and the handling of young cubs.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act was championed by Ms Baskin and Big Cat Rescue, which cited Thursday’s incident as evidence for why the law must be passed. It “confirms the inherent danger in dealing with these animals and why we need the Big Cat Public Safety Act to eliminate having them untracked in backyards around the country and ending up in sanctuaries”, the group said. The Tampa-based sanctuary is home to over 50 exotic cats including lions, bobcats and servals.