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Volunteer at Carole Baskin's Big Cat Rescue suffers 'extreme arm injury' after being bitten by tiger

Animal bites staff member at Carole Baskin's Big Cat Rescue in Florida
Posted at 9:34 AM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 13:49:29-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A volunteer at Carole Baskin's Big Cat Rescue in Tampa was bitten by a tiger Thursday morning and sustained "an extreme injury to her arm."

According to the organization, Candy Couser — who has volunteered with the animal sanctuary for five years — was injured while feeding a 3-year-old Tiger named Kimba on Thursday.

According to a press release, Baskin said that Kimba nearly tore Couser's arm "off her shoulder" as she tried to feed him. The volunteers, according to the release, helped Couser stem the bleeding until an ambulance arrived and took her to St. Joseph's Hospital.

Couser is expected to survive the attack.

In the release, Baskin said that Couser had reached into a cage to open a door that had been clipped shut and that she should have contacted a supervisor when she realized the door was clipped. She also said Couser had violated protocols by putting her arm inside a cage with a tiger.

"Candy was still conscious and insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake," Baskin said in her press release. "(Kimba) 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."

Baskin and Big Cat Rescue were featured prominently in the massively popular Netflix docuseries "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."

"Tiger King" spent much of its time focusing on the feud between Baskin and fellow big cat park owner Joe Exotic, which included accusations by him that Baskin was behind the disappearance of her ex-husband, Don Lewis. Baskin has denied those allegations and has not been charged with a crime in connection with Lewis' death.

In January 2019, Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison in connection with a murder-for-hire plot in an attempt to have Baskin killed. He was also convicted of several violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Baskin was upset with how the show portrayed the captive tiger trade.

Big Cat Rescue is closed to the public due to the coronavirus outbreak. A recent post on the park's website said the animal rescue is losing $160,000 a month in tour revenue.

This story was originally published by Dan Trujillo on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.