Tiger mauls worker at McHenry County circus-training site
Cuneo Farm kept big cats in exchange for giving up elephants to sanctuaries
By Jeff Long Chicago Tribune reporter
2:23 PM CDT, August 7, 2008
A supervisor at a circus-training farm in McHenry County is recovering from scratches and bites to his upper body after being mauled by a tiger this week, the farm’s owner said Thursday.
Larry Dean, who has worked at Hawthorn Corp. for more than 10 years, should not have been near the tigers when he was mauled Tuesday at the farm near Richmond, said Hawthorn owner John Cuneo.
“Somehow, he got close to one of the tigers,” said Cuneo, who spoke to Dean on Thursday morning but was still unclear about details of the attack.
Cuneo said Dean is expected to be released Friday from Centegra Hospital-McHenry.
“They’re always worried about infection, and rightly so,” Cuneo said.
Hawthorn owns about 50 tigers, Cuneo said. But only about 30 of the animals are at the farm, he said. Others are performing at circuses around the world, Cuneo said.
In 2003 the U.S. Department of Agriculture accused Hawthorn of failing to care for its elephants properly, a charge denied by Cuneo. But in 2004 he agreed to give away his elephants in exchange for keeping his circus tigers.
Sanctuaries in Tennessee and California took Cuneo’s 10 remaining elephants in 2006 and 2007.