'It's your own fault': Tiger bites off Oklahoma zookeeper's arm

The owner of the controversial Oklahoma Zoo where the attack took place says the employee 'violated protocol' by sticking her hand inside the cage.

Nick Renaud-Komiya
Monday 07 October 2013 17:55 BST
The owner of the GW Interactive Zoological Park in Oklahoma, Joe Schreibvogel (pictured) said his employee 'violated protocol' when she stuck her hand in a tiger enclosure and got attacked
The owner of the GW Interactive Zoological Park in Oklahoma, Joe Schreibvogel (pictured) said his employee 'violated protocol' when she stuck her hand in a tiger enclosure and got attacked

An employee at a zoo in the US state of Oklahoma who came close to losing her arm after she stuck it in a tiger enclosure has been reprimanded by her boss.

Joe Schreibvogel, owner of the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma told the Mail Online that the employee, who has not been named, was 'at fault' when she was attacked after placing her left arm inside the 400lb tiger's cage on Saturday morning.

“She pulled her own arm out. The tiger didn't maul her. The tiger was in his cage, and she violated his space by sticking her arm into his space,” said Mr Schreibvogel, before adding that the park has a strict rule against introducing any body part into a wild animal enclosure.

The employee, believed to be the supervisor for the cats' enclosure, was wearing a large goose down jacket when she placed her hand in the cage, getting her jacket bunched up inside the cage wire.

The tiger was able to grab onto her hand and pull her arm through a 4-inch hole in the enclosure fence.

The Garvin County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the woman was mauled by an adult tiger and was air-lifted to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

Co-workers quickly tended to the woman before she was airlifted to hospital, according to Mr Schreibvogel.

He said the tiger, a 14-year old mixed breed that he had rescued, would not be put down because “it was not the tiger's fault”.

There was “no other way of avoiding this [incident] other than handcuffing my employees' hands behind their backs...I can't babysit them,” he added.

The animal park closed shortly after the incident, but was open again a few hours later.

A post on the park's Facebook page said the woman was out of surgery and that her arm had been saved.

‘She has a long road of repairs ahead of her but this is a miracle and thanks for the prayers everyone,’ said the update on Saturday evening.

This is not the first time that the zoo and it's eccentric owner, who has been known to wear sparkly clothing while posing with the wild cats, have been mired in controversy.

It was fined $25,000 (£15,600)by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates animal parks open to the public, in 2006 and had its licence suspended for two weeks for what were described as 'facilities violations'.

It is currently being investigated by the USDA following the deaths of 23 tiger cubs between 2009-2010, according to US broadcaster CBS.

Mr Schreibvogel told the Mail Online that he is planning to release a six-song country-western music album, titled Joe Exotic – The Tiger King, with music videos, on 15 November to help fund tigers in the wild.

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