Shelburn, IN (PRWEB) August 7, 2008
Tigers have injured workers at two different facilities in Missouri. An adult tiger jumped a fence and grabbed the lower leg of a Wesa-A-Geh-Ya sanctuary volunteer. An employee at Predator World fell into a water pool inside a tiger enclosure as he was taking a photo for a visitor, and a tiger grabbed him and dragged him out. Jacob Barr who had just started volunteering at Wesa-A-Geh-Ya is recovering after having his leg amputated. Dakota Remel, employee at Predator World, is in the hospital in stable but critical condition.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals who were injured in these incidents", said Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) Director Dan Stockdale, a conservationist and exotic animal trainer.
FCF is an internationally recognized organization with a mission to conserve wild felines through preservation, education and research.
"These incidents underscore the importance for all who work with exotic felines to be trained in safety procedures, and to continually use appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the public, workers, and the animals themselves", said Stockdale.
The tragic escape of the tigress Tatiana from the San Francisco zoo last Christmas underscores the fact that tigers can leap out of a twelve-foot barrier. FCF model regulations recommend a minimum height of twelve foot for walls, with either a two-foot inward angle overhang, or electrified wire at least one foot below the top of the fence.
The FCF accredits member's feline facilities that demonstrate high standards of animal care, husbandry, and protection of the animals and the public. Accreditation chairman Kevin Chambers says, "We believe that this objective is essential in the operation of collections of felines, and that good conscience permits no higher priority." FCF accreditation requires a three-foot recurve fence to prevent escape, top large feline habitats.
The FCF also works to improve keeper safety through its continuing education classes. FCF developed a Basic Wild Cat Husbandry Course presented across the country. The next scheduled class will be taught by FCF certified instructors on Sunday August 31, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, at the Velda Rose Hotel.
"The young employee at Predator World may have thought it was safe to step inside the tiger enclosure for a momentary photo opportunity. However, tigers are very alert to changes in their environment and can respond instantly to stimulus", says FCF spokesperson Stockdale.
Witnesses say the employee slipped and fell. "Once you are on the ground, you are in danger. Even tigers that are hand raised and used to human interaction can potentially see you as a toy, or worse yet, as prey," says Stockdale.
These recent injuries are tragic reminders that successful management of large felines requires proper facilities, and handlers that exercise caution and sound judgment at all times. FCF encourages all exotic feline owners, exhibitors and facility employees to register for the Wild Feline Husbandry Course to keep up to date with current husbandry techniques and safety methods. "Education of the keeper is the key to safety", says FCF president Lynn Culver.
Captive management programs are essential to ensure the survival of the tiger. Experts warn that the wild tiger will almost certainly become extinct from its natural environment within the next five to ten years.