UPDATE: Authorities released the 911 call from GW Exotic Animal Park after one of it’s employees was attacked by a tiger they were caring for. Below you can listen to that 911 call:
UPDATE: – The owner of the tiger, Joe Schreibvogel held a press conference and says the victim of the tiger attack is in good spirits; laughing and joking. The victim, Kelci Saffery, admits that she broke protocol by sticking her hand through the cage instead of using the stick provided for her.
The tiger let go and pushed her hand back through the cage. She says the tiger was not aggressive towards her and she hopes for a quick recovery so she can return to work with her tigers.
Saffery says the tiger bit her on the fingers of her glove and pulled her arm into the cage. As the tiger reached for her coat, both front paws did 90 percent of the damage.
She went on to say that at no time did the tiger growl or show any aggression during any part of the incident. She believes the tiger thought the glove and the coat were toys.
Doctors say she will be in the hospital 10 to 15 days and that they had to remove a small area of the tip of her ring finger.
The tiger was tranquilized and moved to another area of the park “off-exhibit” and will most likely remain there for the rest of his life.
Saffery’s statement read:
I Kelci Saffery release this statement to the press on October 5th. I broke protocol and stuck my hand in a cat cage instead of using the stick provided. The cat let go and pushed my arm back through the cage. This tiger was not aggressive towards me. I hope for a healthy recovery so I can return to work everyday with my tigers.
Joe Schreibvogel said Saffery was one of his top employees.
“She was probably one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. Most dedicated. You had to force her to take a day off,” Schreibvogel says.
He said they follow strict protocol. Critics, like Cynthia Armstrong from the Humane Society disagreed. She said her group did an undercover investigation in 2011.
WYNNEWOOD, Okla. – An Oklahoma zoo worker whose arm was bitten by a tiger will underwent surgery Monday morning.
This time, it will be a minor one to clean out all her wounds.
The woman injured was Kelci Saffery originally from Honolulu, Hawaii. She is 27-year-old.
The tiger bite happened Saturday morning around 10:00 at the GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood.
The tiger’s owner, Joe Schreibvogel, said the employee stuck her arm through the tiger cage and was unable to get it back out before the tiger got to her.
The employee’s arm was not severed but was badly damaged.
She was flown to OU Medical Center where surgeons were able to repair her arm.
Schreibvogel appeared on The Today Show on NBC Sunday morning.
“I honestly think that the tiger is feeling a little bit of remorse this morning,” Schreibvogel said. “When you’ve been around these animals as long as I have, they do pout, they do feel emotions.”
Schreibvogel said the employee involved was also feeling remorseful.
“She said it was her fault, that she had stuck her arm in the cage and last night when I talked to her at the hospital, because was able to talk on the phone, all she could do was apologize for letting me down,” he said.
Schreibvogel said he’s often affectionate with the animals through the cages and while he doesn’t know why this employee stuck her arm through the cage, it has been a problem in the past for employees to be drawn in by their affection for the animals.
“It’s more than one occasion that when your back is turned, they try and get away with petting the animals because they obviously love the animals is why they work in a zoo,” Schreibvogel said.
“I’ve seen her arm. She’s able to move all fingers,” Joe Schreibvogel, owner of the tiger at G.W. Zoo, said.
The G.W. Zoo is home to hundreds of misplaced, abused or abandoned animals.
Schreibvogel said the tiger involved, simply known as “Tiger # 7,” will not be put down.
He said the employee will be allowed back, most likely on some sort of probation.
And he said without the quick medical intervention, she might not have that choice to make.
“With the massive bleeding that we dealt with yesterday, I would say if it wasn’t for the quick response of our medical team here at the zoo and the medical people from town with the ambulance and the helicopter, I would say that she’s extremely lucky,” Schreibvogel said.
The USDA will be in charge of investigating this incident, but right now, they’re not operating because of the government shut down.
According to the Humane Society of United States more than 300 dangerous incidents involving big cats have occurred in 44 states since 1990.