Worker attacked by tigers in Missouri

August 4, 2008 3:31:05 PM PDT
Three tigers attacked a worker at an exotic animal park in southwestern Missouri on Monday -- the state's second tiger attack in as many days. Stone County Sheriff Richard Hill said the tigers attacked a 16-year-old worker at Predator World in Branson West after he entered their cage to photograph the tigers for customers.

Employees managed to pull the teen from the cage before emergency responders arrived. He was airlifted to a Springfield hospital and was in critical condition, with injuries including punctures to his neck. His name was not released.

The tigers were "locked down" after the attack, Hill said. A woman who answered the phone at Predator World said she could only confirm that a staff member had been seriously injured.

The attack came a day after a tiger mauled a volunteer at the Wesa-A-Geh-Ya animal farm in Warrenton. Authorities believe an 800-pound tiger jumped a gate and attacked a volunteer.

The 26-year-old victim had surgery on his leg and was expected to recover, said Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison.

He said the tiger was shot and killed before authorities arrived.

Harrison said the owners and others at the facility tried to cover up what had happened by saying the victim had been attacked by a pit bull. Only later Sunday were authorities told what really happened and led to the tiger's carcass, which had been taken to another property, he said.

Sandra Smith, one of the owners, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she had lied initially because she feared many of the facility's animals would be euthanized if authorities learned the truth, the newspaper reported.

Harrison said no one from the animal facility had been charged and that the investigation was ongoing.

The facility has been criticized by animal rights groups in the past and fined by the federal government.

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