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Tiger attacks employee at South Florida tourist attraction


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A YouTube video shows Wooten’s Airboats has multiple tigers in its animal sanctuary. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office reports an employee was attacked by a tiger Tuesday, March 22.

For the second time in three months, a tiger attack is being reported at an animal attraction in Collier County in southwest Florida.

It happened around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, and involved a employee of Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

The victim, who was not identified, survived and remains hospitalized, officials said.

“We are having a hard time comprehending this happening again,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a March 22 Facebook post.

“Preliminary (very) info indicates a tiger in an enclosure at that location was being fed by (its) caretaker when a 50 year old male, an employee of Wooten’s who was not authorized to be with the tiger, entered the tiger’s enclosure. The tiger attacked the man.”

The victim suffered “injuries to both arms” and was rushed to a hospital by first responders, officials said.

“The tiger’s caretaker was able to safely contain the tiger. The tiger is not injured,” the sheriff’s office said.

Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours in Ochopee includes an animal sanctuary with “two tigers, two lions, otters, turtles and crocodiles,” according to its website. It also has a “live alligator show” that promises to let people “hold and hug an alligator.”

The company is largely known for its airboat and swamp buggy tours through “private Everglades grasslands.”

A YouTube video about the animal sanctuary shows it has had at least two tigers, along with lions, a bobcat, otters and snakes.

The March 22 attack follows a Dec. 29, 2021, incident at the Naples Zoo, involving an 8-year-old Malayan tiger that bit the arm of a cleaning worker, McClatchy News reported.

Investigators say the 26-year-old man “jumped over a fence barrier and put his arm through the fencing” of the tiger’s enclosure, “either to pet or feed him.”

The tiger bit the man’s arm and refused to let go, forcing deputies to shoot the animal, it was reported. The employee survived, but the tiger later died.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.




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