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An elderly volunteer at Carole Baskin’s big cat sanctuary has been rushed to a hospital following a tiger attack on Thursday which almost left the woman without a limb.
Big Cat Rescue volunteer Candy Couser, 69, was tending to Kimba Tiger, a 3-year-old male tiger, on Thursday morning during feeding time when the attack occurred, Baskin told Oxygen.com in an email. Couser has been a volunteer with Baskin’s sanctuary for five years and has been a Green Level Keeper, which allows her to feed the lions and tigers, for three years.
The tiger was being housed in a different section from where he’s usually fed because of a camera installation when Couser “opened a guillotine tunnel door at one end of the tunnel,” Baskin said. When she went to raise the second door within that tunnel, she saw it was clipped shut, Baskin wrote.
“This is our universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist, but Candy said she just wasn't thinking when she reached in to unclip it,” Baskin wrote. “It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it. Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder.”
Other volunteers heard the commotion and ran to help. At that point, Kimba dropped his grip on Couser’s arm and volunteers rushed to stop the bleeding. One man used his belt as a tourniquet as an ambulance was called. Couser was then rushed to the hospital.
“Candy was still conscious and insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake,” Baskin stated. “He is being placed in quarantine for the next 30 days as a precaution, but was just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.”
When asked, Baskin told Oxygen.com that she is still waiting on more info regarding Couser’s state or whether or not her arm was successfully saved. The email statement refers to Couser as "wonderful" and as a person who has "committed themselves to providing care for those discarded by the pay to play industry."
Baskin was heavily featured on Netflix's wildly successful docuseries "Tiger King," which focused primarily on the chaotic downfall of big cat breeder Joe Exotic, who is currently serving 22 years in federal prison for hiring a hitman to kill Baskin, his rival for years.
During their years-long rivalry, Exotic repeatedly accused Baskin of killing her former husband, Don Lewis, who vanished mysteriously in 1997. Baskin has vehemently denied having anything to do with his disappearance.
Since the release of the series, Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who runs a wildlife preserve in North Carolina, was indicted in October on wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty charges for allegedly trafficking lion cubs. Meanwhile, Jeff and Lauren Lowe, who took over Exotic’s zoo, are being sued for alleged animal abuse.
Baskin most recently was a cat print star on “Dancing with the Stars."
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