US zoo worker suffers injury after tiger attack in Oklahoma
AFPWASHINGTON--A tiger yanked a U.S. zoo worker's arm through a narrow gap in his cage Saturday after she put her hand inside, park officials said.
October 7, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park (GW Park) in Wynnewood, Oklahoma closed for several hours and said the worker “violated safety protocol” by inserting her hand inside the adult male big cat's cage around 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT).
The worker “was wearing a large goose down jacket which got bunched up inside the cage wire not allowing her to get her hand back outside the cage wire fast enough and the tiger grabbed her hand pulling her left arm through a four-inch (10-centimeter) square hole,” park president Joe Schreibvogel said in a statement.
The woman, who was not identified because her family had not been notified, received emergency medical treatment from park medics and was then airlifted via helicopter to a nearby hospital.
“She is out of surgery, and they saved her arm. She has a long road of repairs ahead of her but this is a miracle and thanks for the prayers everyone,” the zoo wrote on its Facebook page.
Schreibvogel said the tiger would not be put down.
The reserve has had a troubled history, accused of allowing children to play with exotic cats for a high fee, despite incidents of young tiger cubs biting and scratching the young visitors.
The U.S. Agriculture Department launched an investigation after an astounding 23 tiger cubs died during a 13-month period between 2009 and 2010.
GW Park, which has been investigated several times by U.S. federal agencies and animal rights groups for various incidents, has denied all claims.
“This was an employee error of violating the safety protocols of placing any part of the body inside a cage,” Schreibvogel said about the latest incident.
“During the entire event she was awake and saying it was her fault and plans to return to work.”
In 2011, the owner of a private wild animal preserve in Zanesville, Ohio freed his dozens of lions, tigers, bears and other hazardous animals before killing himself.
The ensuing chaos led authorities to kill more than four dozen of the beasts as they roamed wild in the area.