Big Cat Attacks

Big Cat Attacks Chart 2015


These big cat attack stories are from 1919-2018.  There are so many that they won’t all fit on one page.

Big Cat Killings, Maulings & Escapes 2010 & Before

For an Excel sheet of incidents by state, by year, by species and by country go HERE


Click to see the killings, maulings and escapes by big cats by total for each state  for  less detail, but numbers updated through 2014 

See a list of all of the known tigers in USDA facilities in America. Note that no one knows how many are in backyards and basements of private owners who are not required to be licensed by USDA.  See an interactive online map of tiger owners.

Tigers In America Map 2014


Big Cat Attacks

The following is a partial listing (768) of incidents in the U.S. involving captive exotic cats since 1990.  The U.S. incidents have resulted in the deaths of 24 humans, 19 adults and 5 children, the additional mauling of 263 more adults and children, 283 escapes, the killing of 148 big cats, and 133 confiscations. There have also been 330 big cat incidents outside the U.S. that have resulted in the deaths of 108 humans and the mauling of 172 humans by captive big cats.  These figures only represent the headlines that Big Cat Rescue has been able to track.  Because there is no reporting agency that keeps such records the actual numbers are certainly much higher.

The Journal of Internal Medicine in 2006 estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases in the past 6 years and as many as 78,000 have died. Read more about zoonotic diseases here:

Mauled by a Privately Owned Exotic Pet Who Escaped
Mauled by a Privately Owned Exotic Pet Who Escaped


To see the number of exotic cats abandoned each year check out that section of our most recent Annual Report.

The U.S. represents less than 5% of the entire global population, but up through 2006 79% of ALL captive cat incidents occurred in the U.S.  (Now that the US is clamping down on the exotic pet trade, the reports in 2007 show a decline in U.S. incidents compared to the rest of the world)  Likewise, Florida represents less than 6% of the U.S. population while 12% of all U.S. incidents occur in Florida.  Florida boasts the most comprehensive sets of regulations allowing private ownership of exotic cats while ranking #1 in the highest numbers of big cat killings, maulings and escapes. To view photos of fatal injuries from cases reported in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine click

For more images of people who have been mauled by cougars open this Word Document It appears that many attacks on humans by “wild” mountain lions are really just escaped or released pets.

Yearly Maulings Killings and Escapes by Big Cats


Oct 23, 2018 England: The door to the enclosure was left open through keeper error and  8 year old snow leopard Margaash was shot to death after escaping.  “Efforts to persuade Margaash to return to his enclosure failed and as the animal was close to surrounding woodland and dark was approaching, the vet did not believe a tranquiliser dart was a safe option due to the amount of time the drug takes to work.” said the zoo director Derek Grove.

Oct 7, 2018 Japan: 40 year old Zookeeper, Akira Furusho, was pronounced dead on arrival after apparently being attacked by one of four white tigers kept at Hirakawa zoological park in the city of Kagoshima. Naturalist Steve Backshall repeated what we’ve been saying for decades at Big Cat Rescue, “A wild tiger could range over 1,500 square miles – obviously you could never have a zoo that size.” He was explaining why captivity is so stressful for tigers.

Sept 21, 2018 Fresno, CA:  A lion bit a trespasser at the Chaffee Zoo in Central Fresno.  “He did have to jump over a fence that has a no trespassing sign and had to climb over the barbed wire that was on top of it to actually get into the zoo itself,” Lt. Jennifer Horsford, Fresno Police Department.  The trespasser has been identified as 38-year-old Julio Mendez. Mendez ran away and attempted to climb an 18-foot high mesh to get away from security.  That’s when one of the lions in the exhibit stood up on her back feet and bit Mendez on his left big toe.

June 27-28, 2018:  A serval was filmed slinking around the 700 block of S. Florida Av in Tarpon Springs, FL on June 27 and recaptured the next day.

June 21, 2018 Belgium:  A lion was killed at Belgium’s Planckendael zoo after escaping from an enclosure.  After two failed anesthetic attempts the lion was shot to death.

May 31, 2018 Wellington Ontario:  Provincial Police in Southern Ontario helped track down and capture a wandering young lioness.  A motorist had called to report they had seen a lion cub on the side of the road near the community about 65 kilometres north of Kitchener.  Officers went to the scene, but the cub was long gone, according to OPP. They tracked down the owner and discovered the cub had recently escaped from its pen.

May 9, 2018  China Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in Guilin: A 50 year old zoo keeper was mauled to death by a tiger he had raised from a cub. The zoo has become notorious for selling traditional “medicines” such as wine made using bones and other body parts from tigers. Another zookeeper died there in 2004 after being mauled by a hungry tiger. The zoo has been the subject of two exposes by the South China Morning Post in 2007 and again in 2016, when reporters found dozens of animals in an emaciated state packed into poorly constructed enclosures. According to the exposes, tiger skeletons are steeped in alcohol to produce expensive elixirs, which are still sold around China for high prices. The sale of tiger bones has been illegal on mainland China since 1993. The zoo advertises itself as home to thousands of wild animals, including over 1,300 tigers, 200 African lions and more.

May 1, 2018 S. Africa:  A lion whose attack on a Michael Hodge, owner of Marakele Predator Centre in Limpopo province was recorded in a graphic video has been killed. The video shows Hodge walking in an enclosure behind the lion and then running for an exit when the lion turns and chases him. The lion quickly drags him toward some bushes.

May 1, 2018 Pelham, AL: A serval went missing when he bolted from the front door of Felicia Wilson’s home.

Mar 19, 2018 Mexico:  Gustavo Serrano Carabajal was cleaning the Kimba lion’s cage but forgot to properly lock the gate.  The lion opened the gate and attacked Carabajal by savaging his neck. His lifeless body was later found in the enclosure of Kimba – who is kept at Nicolas Bravo Zoo, in  Mexico.

Mar 12, 2018 China:  An official with the Fuzhou City Government in East China’s Fujian Province said the tiger “suddenly bit onto and suffocated him to death.”  The statement said Wu, who worked for the Fuzhou Zoo, had raised the tiger since it was a cub, and that it had been domesticated through long-term interaction with humans.  Officials described the tiger as “usually quite docile”.

Mar 10, 2018 Jaddah, Saudi Arabia:  A horror moment was caught on film when a little girl is mauled by a lion after kids were trapped inside enclosure where their parents had brought them to play with a “cub”.  The girl can be seen screaming in terror as lion swipes at her with its paws, pinning her to the wall before forcing her to the ground.

Mar 6, 2018 Pretoria, SA:   A 22-year-old, unnamed woman was mauled to death while visiting a popular private wildlife sanctuary run by Kevin Richardson, the well-known “Lion Whisperer,” near Pretoria at the Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve.  Richardson was taking “his” lions for a walk when one broke free and killed the woman almost 2 miles away as she was getting into her car after doing an interview for school.

Feb 7, 2018  Guatamala:  Cipriano Alvarez, 55, had his limbs ripped off after putting his hands too far through the metal bars to give circus tigers a bucket of water to drink from. He had been instructed to fast them every third day.  The tigers ate his arms.

Jan 11, 2018 Krasnoyarsk, Russia:  A woman is saved by her thick winter coat when runaway puma attacks her after it escaped from a Russian circus called Dovgalyuk Dynasty.  The woman was attacked from behind as she bought tickets.  Drivers in the car park honked horns to scare the puma away and stop the attack.  The puma was later caught.

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  • Show Comments (6)

  • Farooq Rehman

    very sad stories…

  • Suzanne Pilozo

    In the mid to late '70's, my Aunt was attacked by a 250lb Bengal tiger in the Great Arena of Great Adventure Amusement Park, Jackson, NJ. She was a performer in the circus type act they used to have there. The attack took place during a show in front of about 2,00 people yet no mention of it here…????

  • Suzanne Pilozo

    *2,000 people

  • Debbie Diggs Verberne

    wild animals belong in the wild….not in cages

  • LaWanna Mitchell

    These are stories that were documented in news etc. If you can provide any kind of documentation on the attack it can be added to this.

  • LaWanna Mitchell

    Search news stories and you will find them.


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