VALENTINE, Ariz. (AP) — A Bengal tiger attacked a nonprofit animal rescue’s founder in northwestern Arizona and will not be put down after the man said it was his fault.
Keepers of the Wild, located in Valentine, Arizona, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Kingman, confirmed in a statement posted Wednesday on its Facebook page that Jonathan Kraft suffered multiple wounds and two broken bones when a Bengal tiger named Bowie pushed an open gate and attacked.
Kraft was working to protect animals from heavy rain, lightning and hail during a storm Monday when the attack occurred.
Kraft took the blame for what he called an “accident” and said “these situations occur when there is human error.”
“I was concerned for his welfare and did not stay focused on him,” Kraft said. “It only takes a fraction of a second for a captive wild animal to revert to their instinctual behavior.”
The declawed 11-year-old tiger used his teeth to hold Kraft until staff intervened, the sanctuary said.
Kraft was taken to a nearby hospital. He will be recovering for several months.
Bowie is fine and will not be euthanized, the group said.
Kraft is a former Las Vegas performer who stopped using big cats in his shows. He began urging other entertainers to stop and developed Keepers of the Wild to provide a home for exotic animals.
Keepers of the Wild is home to 50 different species and sub-species of exotic and native wildlife, according to the statement. The various habitats occupy more than 0.09 square miles (0.23 square kilometers) of developed land, and the big cat species occupy 20 individual areas.
The attack in Arizona came two days after a Sumatran tiger at the Topeka zoo in Kansas attacked a veteran zookeeper who had come into the animal’s enclosure to clean it up.
The zookeeper was hospitalized with cuts and puncture wounds.
Officials have said they are reviewing the zoo’s animal handling protocols because the tiger should have been secured and wasn’t. The zoo did not consider euthanizing the tiger.
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