BuzzFeed News reports that volunteer Candy Couser, who has worked at the rescue for five years, was preparing to feed a tiger named Kimba when he "grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder." Baskin told BuzzFeed News of the incident, which she said was promptly addressed by several staff members who were able to pull her to safety. After she was safely removed from the tiger enclosure, staff used a belt as a tourniquet and "packed her arm in ice packs to try and save it" while they waited for the ambulance.
Kimba had been locked in a section of the cage in which he wasn't usually fed prior to the bite. Couser had opened a door to the cage that had been clipped shut, which Baskin suggested is the "universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist." Just last week, Baskin's zoo, which was formerly owned by Joe Exotic, was reportedly vandalized before she arrived.
"Candy said she just wasn't thinking when she reached in to unclip it," Baskin explained. "It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it." Couser was still conscious as she was taken to the hospital, and Baskin claimed she "insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake." The tiger has since been placed in quarantine for the next 30 days, as a safety precaution.
Grief counseling is being offered to the staff, and Baskin has urged staff for this to act as a reminder "that this sort of tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye and that we cannot relax our guard for a second around these dangerous cats." The incident comes ahead of the Congress vote on the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which proposes a ban on private ownership of big cats.
"The fact that, despite our intense safety protocols and excellent record of safety, an injury like this can occur just confirms the inherent danger in dealing with these animals," she continued. "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 where wonderful people like Candy Couser have committed themselves to providing care for those discarded by the pay to play industry. "
See what Twitter had to say about the incident below.