Volunteer Has Arm Nearly Torn Off By Tiger At Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue

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A volunteer with the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary owned by Carole Baskin of Tiger King fame is said to be in serious condition after being attacked by a tiger Thursday morning.

A representative for the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue confirmed that emergency workers were called to Baskin’s property in Tampa, Fla. According to a statement issued by the wild cat sanctuary, a volunteer named Candy Couser had her arm “nearly [torn off] at the shoulder” by a tiger named Kimba after opening the animal’s gate by mistake.

Carol Baskin

“This morning, during feeding, Candy Couser, who has been a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue for five years, and a Green Level Keeper (lions, tigers, etc.) for almost three years was feeding Kimba Tiger,” the lengthy statement shares. “She saw that he was locked in a section that was away from where he was usually fed and radioed the coordinator to find out why.

“Kimba had been locked away from that section for several days as cameras were being installed there,” the statement continued. “She opened a guillotine tunnel door at one end of the tunnel, and when she went to raise the second door she saw it was clipped shut. This is our universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist, but Candy said she just wasn’t thinking when she reached in to unclip it. It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it. Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder.”


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Kimba released his grip after other volunteers and staff workers rushed to Candy’s aide.

One of the volunteers was a nurse who made efforts to stop the bleeding by holding off the artery under her armpit and using a belt as a tourniquet, packing Couser’s arm in ice packs in hopes of saving it. Big Cat Rescue says an ambulance arrived within 15 or 20 minutes of the incident.

According to the statement, Candy, now being treated at St. Joseph’s Hospital, “insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake.”

The organization adds, “he is being placed in quarantine for the next 30 days as a precaution, but was just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has confirmed that they have taken over the investigation.