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Big Cat Rescue volunteer Candy Couser, who regularly feeds cats, was attacked and seriously injured by a tiger Thursday morning at the sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.
Hillsborough Fire Rescue received an emergency call around 8:30 am responding to an animal bite. Couser, whose arm was nearly torn off from the attack, was treated on scene and then transported to a local hospital.
In a statement to E! News, Baskin explained how the incident occurred saying, “this morning, during feeding, Candy Couser, who has been a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue for five years, and a Green Level Keeper (lions, tigers, etc.) for almost three years was feeding Kimba Tiger. She saw that he was locked in a section that was away from where he was usually fed and radiod the coordinator to find out why. Kimba had been locked away from that section for several days as cameras were being installed there.”
Baskin then further explained that Couser opened a door at one end of the tunnel and noticed the second door was “clipped shut,” which Baskin emphasized is a “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 un-clip it. It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it. Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder.” Said Baskin.
When other volunteers and employees heard the attack, they came rushing to Couser’s side, and the tiger Kimba finally let loose of his grip on her arm. Employees got Couser to safety before an ambulance arrived on the scene.
Couser, who was still conscious, pleaded that the tiger would remain safe. “She did not want Kimba tiger to come to any harm for this mistake.”
“This sort of tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye, and we cannot relax our guard for a second around these dangerous cats,” Baskin said.
Kimba is currently being placed in a thirty-day quarantine as a safety precaution. Baskin claimed the tiger was “just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.”
“You guys did amazing, absolutely amazing. Thank you so much, because you probably saved her life. And you may have saved her arm. So thank you for being here and doing that… I know everybody feels really bad about this because we all love Candy so much and she’s such a sweet person.” Said Baskin.
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Olivia Campus is a journalism student at Cal State University, Fullerton, and an intern at AfterBuzz TV. She hopes to one day pursue a career in entertainment news reporting. Olivia loves movies, especially romantic comedies, and has a passion for all things pop culture
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