Woman recovering after tiger attack at exotic zoo
The park director who owns the tigers at G.W. ExoticAnimal Park calls it a miracle. Hisemployee who was attacked by one of the tigers this weekend, is recovering wellat an Oklahoma City hospital.
Kelci Saffery, 27, was performing her normal duties at thepark Saturday when she says she broke safety protocol and stuck her left handin a tiger cage instead of the stick she was provided with. The tiger grabbed it.
"The cat let go and pushed my arm back through thecage. This tiger was not aggressive towards me," she said in a statement.
Saturday was one of the first cold days of the season inOklahoma. That morning, Saffery waswearing gloves and a puffy jacket. Shebelieves the tiger thought it was a toy.
Tiger owner, Joe Schreibvogel, said the tiger's claws didmost of the damage to Saffery's arm. Thetiger's small front teeth did go through the glove, damaging her ringfinger. Doctors had to remove the tip ofthat finger.
Neither Schreibvogel or Saffery balmed the animal for theincident.
"She said that she thought he felt some remorse ofwhat he did," Schreibvogel said after visiting Saffery Monday. "Today and yesterday he is moping aroundand I truly believe that the tiger understands what he did."
Schreibvogel said Saffery was in good spirits whilerecovering. He called the recovery amiracle.
"This was probably the most horrific arm injury thatI've ever seen. All I can say is OU Medical Center has some pretty remarkabledoctors to completely put that arm back together," he said.
She will remain in the hospital for up to 15 days. Doctors said she will have to undergo severalsurgeries in the next two years to completely repair the arm.
In her statement, Saffery said she is focused on a speedyrecovery so she can get back to work.
Schriebvogel said he will not put the cat down. He called it an isolated incident that couldhave been prevented.
The park said despite meeting all federal guidelines, itwants to ensure this will not happen again. Crews are working to install smaller links on each of the park's 300cages so that people cannot reach inside them.