A volunteer who had been working at Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, for five years nearly had her arm ripped off while feeding a tiger.
Local news picked up the story.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) December 3, 2020
Baskin, who rose to popularity on Netflix’s docuseries Tiger King and later competed on Dancing With The Stars, said Thursday’s incident is a reminder that:
“tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye and that we cannot relax our guard for a second around these dangerous cats.”
More on Big Cat Rescue tiger incident:
🔹Volunteer Candy Couser was feeding tiger, Kimba
🔹Couser is a 5-year volunteer
🔹Her arm was "nearly torn off" at the shoulder
🔹She's at the hospital
🔹Kimba will quarantine for 30 dayshttps://t.co/Kx1Jl6SP18 @WFLA #carolbaskin pic.twitter.com/V4ESGitx8h
— Jennifer Peñate (@WFLAJennifer) December 3, 2020
According to Big Cat Rescue’s Facebook page, Candy Couser—a five-year volunteer and a “Green Level Keeper (lions, tigers, etc.) for almost three years” at the animal sanctuary—was about to feed a tiger named Kimba, who was locked in an area of the cage where he is usually not fed.
Oh wow she was a volunteer? Wasn’t even getting paid to do that??
— Murph In Tampa (@MurphInTampa) December 3, 2020
And, here's Kimba pic.twitter.com/6kG0F0WSpc
— Jennifer Peñate (@WFLAJennifer) December 3, 2020
The organization wrote on Facebook:
“Kimba had been locked away from that section for several days as cameras were being installed there.”
“[Couser] 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.”
“It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it.”
Oh no. That poor volunteer.
— Rebecca Kalyani (@RebeccaKalyani) December 3, 2020
Subsequently, Kimba grabbed hold of Couser’s arm and “nearly tore it off at the shoulder.”
A staff member named Marc pulled Couser to safety after Kimba released his grip.
Marc used his belt as a tourniquet while the sanctuary’s nurse “held off the artery under Candy’s armpit to stop the bleeding” and “packed her arm in ice packs to try and save it.”
The ambulance arrived within 15 – 20 minutes of the accident.
Baskin added Couser was conscious while being transported to the hospital and insisted Kimba not be harmed “for this mistake.”
Update from @BigCatRescue on the condition of volunteer Candy Couser who was attacked by a tiger named Kimba during feeding time:
Candy's husband reports that she is going into surgery soon. She can move her fingers and her arm is broken in three places. Her shoulder is badly pic.twitter.com/pbLNYCuiUj
— Erik Waxler (@erikwaxler) December 3, 2020
Kimba was an abused circus tiger rescued from Guatemala 2 years ago by ADI, who witnessed the tiger being beaten. He is fairly skittish, At this time, he had been locked in a closed section for three days so a camera could be installed..
— Ms Whiskers is pissed. (@BauerSidonie) December 3, 2020
In other news, Tiger’s are doing what they’ve done since creation.
— Back In Time Podcast (@Backintimepod) December 3, 2020
"Tiger Does Tiger Stuff" is a more accurate headline. They aren't pets
— General Ed Fenech (@FenechEd) December 3, 2020
Kimba is being quarantined for 30 days as a precautionary measure.
Grief counseling is being offered to volunteers and staff members in the wake of the tragic incident in which Baskin confirmed Kimba “was just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.”
It may seem like an odd thing to say, but it's good to hear that it was only human error. Surprising that such a long-time volunteer would make that kind of mistake. I hope she's going to be ok.
— Deborah (@DeborahPeasley) December 3, 2020
Shut that place down already!
— Alberto Baalbaki (@AlbertoBaalbaki) December 3, 2020
The accident happened to coincide on the day Congress was scheduled to vote on the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would ban illegal tiger trade and place further limitations on ownership of wild animals.
Baskin stressed the importance of the bill, saying:
“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 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.”
Hoping the lady recovers and that the tiger isn't punished for being a tiger.
Baskin should look into another business. She's made her $$ and had her 15 minutes.
— dana 🌎 🌳 #FreeJulianAssange (@D_Born) December 3, 2020
I’m sorry the trainer was injured, but glad Kimba wasn’t hurt.
— EmmersandBear (@GBearEmmaG) December 3, 2020
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Commission spokeswoman Melody Kilborn said The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement is conducting an investigation—which is standard practice for cases like this involving wildlife sanctuaries.