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October 5, 2013

Tiger Mauls Employee at G.W. Exotic Animal Park

Swift Action Urged to End Contact With Dangerous Wild Animals

Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director of The Humane Society of the United States, released the following statement in response to a female employee at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla. being mauled by an adult tiger:

“We warned last year after our undercover investigation that GW Exotics may have more dangerous exotic animals than any other roadside zoo in the nation. At this facility, people are allowed to play with and handle some of the world’s most lethal carnivores. This is not the first incident that has taken place at this facility. During our investigation, it was revealed that in 2011 alone, tigers from GW Exotics bit three members of the public at a fair, a young girl was bitten on the leg during the “play cage” portion of a park tour, a tiger cub scratched a young child while he was posing for a picture with the animal, and a 20-week-old tiger knocked down and bit a small child. This facility is a ticking time bomb awaiting for the next incident to occur which tragically did today.

"GW Exotic Animal Park houses approximately 200 tigers and other dangerous exotic animals and acts as a petting zoo that breeds tiger and bear cubs for the public to pet and play with for a fee.

"That’s why The HSUS is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prohibit public contact with tigers and other dangerous wildlife and urging the  Oklahoma legislature to finally prohibit the private possession of dangerous wild animals. Substandard roadside zoos like the G.W. Exotic Animal Park have no business possessing these animals.”

Facts:

  • Tigers, lions, and other big cat species have exploded in popularity in the exotic pet trade. There are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 tigers in the United States, but fewer than 400 of them are in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
  • Even when born in captivity and hand-raised, big cats retain their predatory instincts. They can (and do) injure and kill people, as evidenced by the hundreds of attacks by big cats in the U.S. in the last two decades alone.
  • Allowing private possession of dangerous wild animals poses unnecessary and preventable risks to public safety—and to the welfare of the animals themselves.
  • Tigers, lions, cougars, and other big cats are efficient predators who have no place as pets in our communities. Tigers are 360 to 720 times more likely to be involved in a fatal attack than dogs. Since 1990, more than 300 dangerous incidents involving big cats have occurred in 44 states. Four children lost their lives and at least 66 others lost limbs, suffered paralysis, were left permanently blind, or suffered other injuries. Sixteen adults have been killed, and scores have been mauled. The animals involved are victims, too—more than 100 have been killed following attacks and escapes

Media Contact: Heather Sullivan; 240.477.2251; hsullivan@humanesociety.org

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