, Muskogee, OK

October 6, 2013

Tiger mauls park worker

Associated Press

— WYNNEWOOD (AP) — A tiger ripped up the left arm of a worker at a central Oklahoma animal park after she stuck her hand into its enclosure Saturday.

Joe Schreibvogel, who owns Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, said the woman was in surgery Saturday in Oklahoma City, where doctors were trying to save her arm.

“He tore her arm up pretty bad,” Schreibvogel said. “Her entire arm was still attached. It was badly, badly damaged.”

Co-workers tended to the woman before she was airlifted to the hospital, he said.

“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,” Schreibvogel said, adding that the park has a strict rule against introducing any body part into a wild animal enclosure.

Schreibvogel withheld the woman’s name because he hadn’t been able to notify her family. He said she is in her early 20s.

“She’s actually the supervisor of the cats. But when you work with these things every day, you tend to let your guard down and think they’re pets, that they’re like dogs.  They’re not — they’re tigers,” he said.