Lion bites off zookeeper's arm at Busch Tampa

Posted Monday, May 13, 2002 4:34 AM | Contributed by Justin Ashworth

A 12-year old lion bit off the arm of a 21-year old zookeeper at Busch Gardends Tampa. She was flown to a hospital in Tampa where she is in serious condition. It is unclear if doctors will be able to reattach the arm.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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Monday, May 13, 2002 4:41 AM
Jeff's avatar

Zoo officials said they had not decided what to do with the lion.


What are they going to do, shoot it for doing what wild animals do?

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
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Monday, May 13, 2002 4:44 AM
They shouldn't shoot it... I mean the person was probaly taunting it.
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Monday, May 13, 2002 5:06 AM
How about they ask the keeper why her arm was through the cage . The Lion did what he would normally do.
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Monday, May 13, 2002 5:16 AM
Evidently, the zookeeper was in the process of taking some family members of hers on a "behind the scenes" tour of the lion exhibit. From what I understand from the news reports, the woman got a little too close to the cage and the lion was able to grab her arm and pull it into the cage, thereby causing the horrific injury.
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Monday, May 13, 2002 5:19 AM
joe.'s avatar all i can say is OW!

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Monday, May 13, 2002 5:31 AM
I seriously doubt that the keeper's arm was through the cage, and I also doubt that she was taunting it.

Its a simple fact with animal enclosures, when your behind the scenes, simply standing next to them can be dangerous. Animals can quite often attack through the bars, I personally know of an animal where people are asked to stand at least 2 meters (about 6 feet) from his cage (This is in a back area of course)

If she was showing her family around, chances are she wasn't thinking so much about safety, and was more concerned about making sure they got a good look, and just got too close.

That's just my guess though, for all I know she could have been poking it with a stick (but again, I doubt it)

I'd also be interested to see if this animal has a history of aggression, or anything like that. A very sad story, hope they can reattach the arm

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http://www.geocities.com/doza35au/Seaworld_main_page.html *** This post was edited by Joz on 5/13/2002. ***

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Monday, May 13, 2002 6:29 AM
Im with Jeff with this one, Its not like the animal was loose it was in its enclosure and did what animals do in the wild. I would like to know if he is the only lion in there or is there some female(cats) inside also maybe with one in heat, male lions are very protective of there pride, there only jobs are breeding and protecting.

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Army Rangers lead the way


*** This post was edited by supermandl on 5/13/2002. ***

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Monday, May 13, 2002 6:32 AM
We've had similar incidents in the past at our zoo. The animals involved were not destroyed, so I hope this is the case for this. My friend who does work with large cats recognizes the dangers involved and accepts them as part of the job. He has said in the past that they are constantly reminded not to get lulled into a false sense of security by a seemingly docile animal.

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Jeff-Jeff
Wood - Raven
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Generic, isn't it? *** This post was edited by Jeff Finazzo on 5/13/2002. ***

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Monday, May 13, 2002 6:49 AM
Jeff's avatar

As my wife mentioned in the forum thread, animals get stressed and don't just forget their instincts just because they were born in captivity. You can't really blame the animal for that.

I wish the best for the zookeeper, I know I wouldn't wish that kind of thing on anyone and hope the doctors can repair her arm.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

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Monday, May 13, 2002 6:53 AM

Here is a bigger article on subject, says there was a female in with him but was not around when attack took place. Its the 3 attack only on zookeepers(1 died being crushed by elephant and 1 hurt by rattlesnake).

http://orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-loclion13051302may13.story?coll=orl%2Dhome%2Dheadlines

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Army Rangers lead the way

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Monday, May 13, 2002 7:13 AM
Kick The Sky's avatar The problem though is an animal can sometimes get an instinct for human blood and that is what I believe the Busch park is considering in making their decision on what to do with the animal. If they think that the animal could become more and more dangerous they will put it down. I hope that it was just a mere accident and that the animal wont have to be put down. It would be a tremendous waste if it did, but possibly necessary.

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Monday, May 13, 2002 7:34 AM
Jeff's avatar

My wife is the expert on animal behaviour, but as best I can tell the reason for the attack may not have had anything to do with human blood. If the animal felt threatened in anyway, especially given that it has nowhere to go in a cage, I don't doubt they'd attack. The animal won't become more or less dangerous... they're always dangerous.

The rules around these animals are insanely specific. For example, at the Cleveland zoo, outside of one of the big cat cages, you never touch the animal through the fence by penetrating it. At the shark encounter at SFWoA, they apparently have a line painted on the floor around the top of it that you don't cross, not because they're worried about a shark jumping out necessarily, but because you can't fall in if you're not that close.

That Sentinel article makes it sound like a rule was broken, and that's unfortunate.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

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Monday, May 13, 2002 7:59 AM
rollergator's avatar

My "guess" Jeff is that the keeper was unusually distracted since she was showing her family/boyfriend around. As I mentioned in that forum thread, we had a lion up here who killed the trainer, was not put down, and killed the owner 1-2 months later. Not sure exactly why, but MY "instinct" tells me once a wild animal has attacked, it's probably not a wise move to keep trainers interacting with them as before.....

I think the lion was probably startled, or threatened, or felt that the trainer was not showing "proper attention"....in the pride, if you're the lead lion and another lion feels you could be taken, he just may do so....I think that's what happened here....if you forget for one second that you're dealing with a WILD animal, you may get reminded in the worst way....

bill, not trying to make light of the situation, but always perplexed when people say the animal has "gone bad"....born wild, live wild, die wild....OR, quoting Jeff "they're ALWAYS dangerous"...

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Monday, May 13, 2002 8:24 AM
Jeff's avatar

Maybe that's another distinction we should make. I'm pretty sure (but may be incorrect) that the lions at BGT are purely for show, but they don't do shows. Show animals have trainers, others just have keepers. This is not to say that keepers don't have relationships with the animals, but those goofballs in Vegas or the circus folk aren't the same situations as those people who care for and feed them.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

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Monday, May 13, 2002 9:26 AM
I used to date a keeper at the Atlanta zoo long, long ago. At that time at least, their handling was very dependant on the known temperament of the animal. With some of the cats they were very careful. Others were treated like house cats. Bears were always regarded as dangerous, and bear keepers considered a little crazy to have their jobs. *** This post was edited by Jim Fisher on 5/13/2002. ***
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Monday, May 13, 2002 9:40 AM
Yes, bears are VERY dangerous. A friend of mine who's a vet used to do volunteer work at the Pittsburgh Zoo, and was one of the vets on hand to help them when they removed the polar bear exhibit. She said she's never been more scared in her life -- even after they knocked the bears out, they were growling in their sleep.

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Monday, May 13, 2002 10:09 AM

Also an adult male Kodiak or Polar bear stands 13-15 feet tall. They make a lion look tiny.

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Monday, May 13, 2002 10:16 AM
I know that this is going to come out wrong, but has there ever been a study that shows an inverse relationship between melanin and "animal awareness"? Because I swear that everytime I hear a "When animals attack" story it is always devoid of people of color. ;)
lata,
jeremy
--"Haven't you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?" Joker - Batman: The Motion Picture
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Besides, if we were really shutting down people we disagreed with, would Jeremy (2Hostyl) still be around? :) I think not. - Jeff 1/24/02
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Monday, May 13, 2002 10:19 AM
Jeff's avatar

It would explain why black folks try to stay clear of Southern Indiana. ;)

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

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