Slippery When Wet: Watch Your Step Because You Don’t Want to Trip in a Tiger Cage

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An FCF risk assessment study representing 5,000 cat years of experience documented only owners and handlers and persons voluntarily interacting with big cats were ever injured. There was no risk at all to uninvolved public.

Tame exotic felines can get a little wild when something unexpected happens. So it's important to pay attention to the small details, like walking upright.

Lancelot Kollman startled his newly acquired tigress when he stumbled and fell inside the cat's cage. The 250-pound feline swatted him, scratching the Hillsborough County man on his upper body. Kollman exited, locked the cage and asked a neighbor to drive him to the hospital.

Marcus Cook, director for the Feline Conservation Federation representing responsible exotic cat owners says, "We at the FCF wish Lancelot Kollmann a speedy recovery."

Kollman's exotic animal collection is permitted by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission and is inspected by the US Department of Agriculture. Licensed facilities with big cats are required to have secure enclosures surrounded by a secondary perimeter fence to protect the public.

Kollmann is no stranger to tigers and other large cats, having grown up in a circus family.

Circus performers, like all knowledgeable handlers understand and accept the occupational hazards of working with exotic animals. Russian circus director Maxim Nikulin once described an injury inflicted by a performing tiger to one of his circus' big cat trainers as, "Very bad from the point of view of a normal person, but from a circus performer's point of view it's nothing really." His quote is not surprising considering most people have zero tolerance for injuries, even those requiring a small Band-Aid.

Cook, a professional exhibitor of big cats with 18 years experience says, "Any big cat can accidentally injure you. It's advisable to use the buddy system so someone can assist should the need arise."

An FCF risk assessment study representing 5,000 cat years of experience documented only owners and handlers and persons voluntarily interacting with big cats were ever injured. There was no risk at all to uninvolved public.

Cook notes, "These rare incidents are often sensationalized by animal rights fanatics to incite politicians into supporting legislation to further the AR agenda of ending all animal ownership."

Americans are at far greater risk of injury from their family dogs than from neighbors who own exotic cats. According to the Centers for Disease Control, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people a year, of these, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require emergency treatment and about a dozen die.

The FCF, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, developed a Wild Feline Husbandry Course that has been taught in 18 states and graduated over 450 students. One section is devoted to animal handling. Students learn exotic felines love a good game of cat and mouse. The important thing is to not be the mouse. Certified course instructor Carol Bohning sums it up with, "Always keep your eyes on the cat."

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Lynn Culver
FELINE CONSERVATION FEDERATION
(479) 394-5235
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