TAMPA, Fla. – A 5-year veteran volunteer at Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary, in Tampa had her arm nearly torn off at the shoulder Thursday while feeding a tiger named Kimba.
Candy Couser has been a Green Level Keeper for three years, according to the rescue, and “Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder” after Couser mistakenly opened a door.
Officials with the rescue, which gained notoriety in the Netflix documentary “Tiger King,” said Couser “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.”
Couser reportedly said she “just wasn’t thinking when she reached up to unclip it,” officials said, noting that it’s against protocol for anyone to stick a body part into a cage that also houses a cat.
Big Cat Rescue officials said it took 15-20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and that a belt was used as a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding before the ambulance arrived.
Kimba’s bio on the rescue’s website states that he was born sometime in 2017 and came to the rescue after Guatemala passed a law banning the circus. He was rescued along with two other tigers from the circus in June 2018 and arrived at Big Cat Rescue in November 2019.
According to rescue officials, Couser said she didn’t want Kimba to “come to any harm for this mistake.”
Kimba will be placed in quarantine for the next 30 days as a precaution but officials insist he was “just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.”
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, received national attention after she was featured in the Netflix documentary “Tiger King” which aired March 20. Her feud with private zoo operator Joe Exotic was featured heavily in the documentary.