A tiger named Kimba grabbed a volunteer’s arm at Big Cat Rescue in Florida Thursday morning and “nearly tore it off at the shoulder,” according to the organization. Candy Couser has been volunteering with Big Cat Rescue for five years and for the last three she has been considered a Green Level Keeper, who cares for the big cats.
According to a press release from Big Cat Rescue, Couser was feeding Kimba this morning around 8:30 a.m. The male tiger had been locked in a section of his habitat where he is usually not kept as cameras were being installed. Couser was not aware as to why Kimba was in a different area.
Big Cat Rescue reports that Couser radioed to ask why the tiger was in a different area, but in the meantime, “she opened a guillotine tunnel door at one end of the tunnel, and when she went to raise the second door she saw it was clipped shut. This is our universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist, but Candy said she just wasn’t thinking when she reached in to unclip it.”
The organization, owned by Carole Baskin of Netlix’s Tiger King fame, said it is “against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it.”
Big Cat Rescue Said the Tiger Was ‘Just Acting Normal Due to the Presence of Food & the Opportunity’
According to Big Cat Rescue, a woman named Jane ran to help after hearing “the commotion.” The tiger let go of Couser and another woman named Gina, who is a nurse, “held off the artery under Candy’s armpit to stop the bleeding, and Marc, who had pulled Candy to safety, used his belt as a tourniquet as others called for an ambulance. Gina packed her arm in ice packs to try and save it.”
In an audiofile of interviews with witnesses, Marc said that he could see the arm was detached at the shoulder and “barely hanging on by a little bit of skin underneath.”
Couser was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and her husband was contacted. It’s not clear if she will lose her arm.
Kimba will be put into quarantine for the next 30 days “as a precaution,” but according to Big Cat Rescue, the tiger was just being a tiger.
He “was just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity,” the press release said. “Carole reminded everyone 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.”
Couser ‘Insisted That She Did Not Want Kimba Tiger to Come to Any Harm for This Mistake’
According to Big Cat Rescue, Couser said she does not want the tiger to be put down for nearly ripping off her arm. That wouldn’t be the first time a person who works with big cats lost an arm and to a tiger attack and didn’t hold it against the animal.
Kelci “Saff” Saffery wowed millions on the second episode of Tiger King after he was attacked by a tiger at Joe Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Saffery elected to have his arm amputated rather than go through lengthy reconstruction operations that would take around two years, according to Law and Crime, and he went back to working with tigers five days later.
Big Cat Rescue says that Kimba was born sometime in 2017. He came to Big Cat Rescue from a circus in Guatemala after the country outlawed the circus.
Staff and volunteers at Big Cat Rescue met today to talk about the tragic turn of events and a grief counselor was present, according to the organization.