A tiger reportedly bit a staff member at Tampa’s controversial Big Cat Rescue Thursday morning.
Eric Seidel, of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, told Creative Loafing that the incident occurred at around 8:30 a.m. at the property located at 12802 Easy St.
Because of HIPAA laws, the identity of the person who was bitten and the extent of the injury cannot be disclosed, but Seidel did say it was a "serious injury."
The victim was treated on-site and transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. No other details were given.
Big Cat Rescue was most recently made famous on last summer’s Netflix hit documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, starring the animal sanctuary’s CEO Carole Baskin and her nemesis, Oklahoma zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic. In the documentary, one of Exotic's staff members, Kelci "Saff" Saffery, had their arm ripped off by a tiger, which prompted Joe Exotic's infamous line, "I'm never going to financially recover from this."
Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison, after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin, as well as killing five tigers and numerous other animal abuse violations.
Baskin has also been questioned in the disappearance of her late husband Jack Donald "Don" Lewis, which is still an active cold case in Hillsborough County. Last March, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said his department was getting “six tips a day” regarding the 23-year-old case, though most were not credible.
The animal sanctuary has been closed to the public since the beginning of the pandemic, and has been losing $160,000 a month, according to a post on its website.
This is a developing story, first reported by our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa.
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