A longtime volunteer at “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue in Florida nearly had her arm torn off Thursday when she was bitten by a tiger.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews responded to a call around 8:30 a.m. at the Tampa facility after the tiger bit the volunteer, spokesman Eric Seidel told the New York Daily News.

Big Cat Rescue identified the victim as 69-year-old Candy Couser, who has been a volunteer at the sanctuary for five years. Couser was feeding a tiger, Kimba, when she tried to open the gate to the area where he was being kept, “away from where he was usually fed,” a spokesperson for the animal organization told The News.


In this 2018 photo provided by Big Cat Rescue, volunteer Candy Couser smiles before feeding big cats at Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue sanctuary near Tampa, Fla. Couser, who regularly feeds big cats was bitten and seriously injured by a tiger Thursday morning, Dec. 3, at the sanctuary, which was made famous by the Netflix series “Tiger King,” officials said. Big Cat Rescue via AP

Couser broke sanctuary protocol and reached into the cage to unclip the lock, which is when Kimba “grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder,” according to the Big Cat Rescue spokesperson.

Another employee pulled Couser away from the tiger and used his belt as a tourniquet, while another packed ice packs around her arm “to try and save it.”

“Candy was still conscious and insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake,” the cat rescue spokesperson said.


Kimba has been put in quarantine for 30 days “as a precaution.”

Big Cat Rescue is currently closed to the public during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Baskin made national headlines when her animal sanctuary was featured in Netflix’s Joe Exotic documentary, which has led to renewed interest in the mysterious disappearance of her husband Don Lewis, who was last seen in 1997.

Baskin, 59, also competed on the most recent season of “Dancing With the Stars.”

The attack came the same day the House was set to vote on a bill that would end the trade and ownership of big cats, a bill championed by animal rights activists.

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