Volunteer Injured By Tiger

Volunteer Injured By Kimba Tiger

December 3, 2020, during feeding at 8:21 am, Candy age 69, who has been a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue for five years, and a Green Level Keeper (lions, tigers, etc.) for almost three years was feeding 3 year old Kimba Tiger. She saw that he was locked in a section that was away from where he was usually fed and radiod the coordinator to find out why. Kimba had been locked away from that section for several days as cameras were being installed there. She opened a guillotine tunnel door at one end of the tunnel, and when she went to raise the second door she saw it was clipped shut. This is our universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist, but Candy said she just wasn’t thinking when she reached in to un clip it. It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it. Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder.

Jane heard the commotion and came running. Kimba dropped his grip and Candy fell away from the side of the tunnel. Gina being a nurse held off the artery under Candy’s armpit to stop the bleeding and Marc, who had pulled Candy to safety, used his belt as a tourniquet as others called for an ambulance. Gina packed her arm in ice packs to try and save it. The ambulance arrived within 15-20 minutes of the accident.

Candy’s husband was called, and Candy has been taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Candy was still conscious and insisted that she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake. He is being placed in quarantine for the next 30 days as a precaution, but was just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.

Grief counseling is available in our grief group with Dr. Kim for those who have been impacted by this tragic event. All of the volunteers and staff on site today met to discuss what happened. Carole reminded everyone that this sort of tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye and that we cannot relax our guard for a second around these dangerous cats. This happened on the day our federal bill to ban cub handling and private possession comes to the House floor for a vote.

The fact that, despite our intense safety protocols and excellent record of safety, an injury like this can occur just confirms the inherent danger in dealing with these animals and why we need the Big Cat Public Safety Act to eliminate having them untracked in backyards around the country and ending up in sanctuaries where wonderful people like Candy Couser have committed themselves to providing care for those discarded by the pay to play industry. for photos and videos of him

The audio file of the volunteers informing Carole Baskin of the event is embedded with photos of Candy caring for cats here and even on the day of Kimba’s arrival from Guatemala when she helped offload him from the transport to his new forever home here.  Candy is a beloved member of our family and cares deeply for the animals and respects the safety protocols of the sanctuary.  It only took one moment, and one wrong decision for tragedy to strike.

Update on Candy and Kimba

Candy’s husband reported that she’s had surgery but this has been so tragic for all involved that they would like their privacy to be respected.  She can move her fingers and her arm was broken in three places. Her shoulder was badly damaged.  She is conscious but sedated and when the Florida Wildlife officers visited her they said she was able to tell them what happened, which is what she told our volunteers who responded to the scene.   Kimba Tiger’s rabies and other vaccines are all up to date but he’s being kept on quarantine for 30 days anyway to keep an eye on him.  While it’s our understanding that the CDC could demand he be killed and tested for rabies, that’s unlikely given the fact that he’s vaccinated and Candy did not want him to be killed for doing what comes naturally.  Please keep Candy and her family in your hearts, as we will be doing, in hopes for a full recovery.  We also ask that the media stop hounding them and us during this stressful time for all involved.

Our keepers go through extensive training with the most important being to never stick any part of your body in a cage.  In addition to all of the classes at there are also certifications for each procedure that require observing how something is done several times and then having someone who is certified observe the keeper doing the procedure several times.  Each time there are written sign offs before graduation to the next level of animal care.  There are more than 50 classes to reach the level of proficiency required to feed our big cats.  Coordinators are meeting tonight however to discuss the issue.

How do we feed big cats at Big Cat Rescue?

This video is from our feedling class but the doors that Candy was operating were a full cage away from this feeding lockout because she accidentally took the food to the wrong feeding lockout.  As stated above, this large section of cage had been shut off from the cat because work on the road near it had been under construction for a few days and we were keeping him from barking at those working nearby.

What Changes Resulted From This Tragic Accident?

Big Cat Rescue’s Volunteer Committee and Coordinators all met on the eve of this tragedy to discuss ways that such an accident might be prevented in the future.  Given the extent of the training our volunteers receive and the certifications required that they observe someone doing the tasks several times and then have certified trainers observing them doing the tasks several times, before they are signed off to do them alone there wasn’t much we could improve to insure our people don’t make a mistake and break protocol.  If the actual safety training couldn’t be improved then perhaps the answer would be to require annual recertification in our safety training, which includes NEVER sticking any part of your body into a cage containing a cat, so that everyone is reminded again.  We already do mandatory monthly safety training and drills of all our keepers and admin partners, but each month is a different topic.  Adding the annual requirement to revisit our most important rule about never coming into contact, or potential contact, with any of our exotic cats was the primary conclusion of the meeting.

We refitted all of the cages for Class I cats to have a different locking mechanism that requires a huge, metal comb to be placed through the tunnels, as a more visual cue to NOT open the door, and the clips for the pulleys have new, extending Vs outside the cage wall so there is never even an opportunity to slip a hand in to reach the snaps.

After our dirt road, Easy Street, was closed to traffic and we started using the paved road down past the Marriott and then the shorter dirt drive to our gate, we invited the fire department and sheriff’s departments that are both less than a mile from us out to visit the sanctuary and see all of the access points in case of an emergency.  Despite this, the ambulance that arrived was delayed 11 minutes from the time we could hear the sirens and they arrived on the scene because Google maps and GPS are incorrect and they went to the mapped coordinates first which are wrong and there was no entry available at those wrong locations.  We’ve tried unsuccessfully to change this with the map systems to no avail.  We will find out where this ambulance was dispatched from, as the sirens were heard just six minutes after we called 911 and give them our updated access info.

We also arranged to be a collection point for cards and letters for Candy’s speedy recovery at Big Cat Rescue 12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625 and we will forward them to her for you.

This video is an aerial view of Kimba Tiger’s enclosure.

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  1. I hope all is going well for Candy. Is there any chance on an update about her please. I understand if the answer is no.

  2. Wishing the best for you BCR, Kimba, and of course, Candy, too!
    Heard the news regarding Kimba being with BCR for the rest of his life, whew!
    He’s out of quarantine! Yay!

  3. Wishing the best for you BCR, Kimba, and of course, Candy, too! <3

    Heard the news regarding Kimba being with BCR for the rest of his life, whew!
    He's out of quarantine! Yay!

  4. Wishing the best for you BCR, Kimba, and of course, Candy, too! <3

    Heard the news regarding Kimba being with BCR for the rest of his life, whew! He's out of quarantine! 🙂

  5. I will pray that Candy heals quickly and I will pray for all the cats, they are wild animals and only do what they think is the right thing to do. Everyone including myself thank you all the great job you are doing for the people the staff and the cats. I will personally look into finding someone to fix that google map for you and see what I can do from my end. Thanks again

  6. Two young men had a “Pet” leopard a number of houses down from ours when I was a teenager in Palm Harbor (Indian Bluff Island”. We had seen them in the past with it out in their front yard on a leash. One day, the leopard attacked a friend of theirs who was asked to feed it while they were away. She managed to make it to the front yard, where a neighbor (who fortunately had a rifle) was able to shoot and kill the animal before it did further damage.
    She survived, but required extensive medical treatment for her severe neck wound. It appalls me that our family did not think to contact the authorities about this dangerous situation in our neighborhood.
    The Disney Corporation (and others) producing “family” movies – depicting large PREDATORS as friendly companions to humans – are doing a great disservice toward the safety of naive persons, especially children.
    I applaud Big Cat Rescue for advocating laws to BAN the private ownership of these animals.

  7. Continued prayers for Candy hope she is doing better. I haven’t seen any updates for awhile. Please keep us update

  8. Prayers and Hugs to Candy on her speedy recover and eventual return to BCR. And Virtual pats and treat to Kimba, that he isn’t too traumatized by the events…He was just being a Big Cat! Love and hugs to all of you for all you do for these beautiful kitties!

  9. Is there an actual update on how Ms. Candy is doing? Please tell her that all of BCR’s supporters send their love and wishes for a smooth recovery!

  10. You can only do what you can do to the best of your ability. Accidents are going to happen no matter how intensive the training is. It’s inevitable. Dealing with wild animals it’s a risk you take and you must agree to that knowledge when working with them. Luckily no one lost their life and I pray the cat isn’t paying a price for doing what it naturally does. I know know she must feel awful and I wish a full recovery for the woman. Prayers for all.

  11. I am wishing Candy a full and quick recovery. I have checked for updates daily for her progress. And to say, “We all make mistakes and no one knows better than me.” I will keep her and all of you in my thoughts and prayers and Kimba too. Candy, someday if you feel like it, we can share our blunders, as I too know about stitches and tendons, and nerves and Physical Therapy to regain lost movement and feeling. It’s work but well worth it!

  12. The clips you use on the 2nd gates are metal iI assume. Perhaps painting them red, or using some sort of plastic cap with “DO NOT OPEN” on it would help alert the feeder or volunteer. Better than just relying on memory to not unlock the clips. Just a thought. God bless you all and prayers for Candy!

  13. I sent a card for Candy and have a lot of names included from our bcr fan group chat !!! Prayers for Candy and family

  14. I cant imagine how devastated everyone must feel. I watch daily and can see the dedication in the work you do. Big cats are no match for humans; they are so strong and obviously Kimba has the appropriate wildness even for a cat so abused. They are not ours to keep and use, abuse or kill. I am a proud supporter for BCR and the work you do and in particular the hands off approach regardless of the fact that the cats will never live in the wild again. Keep on doing the work you do and stay safe. Virtual hug for handsome Kimba and hoping for a speedy recovery for Candy;
    They are both in my thoughts

  15. Very informative. You obviously have the utmost concern for the safety of the volunteers and cats in your care. The training video was professional, thorough and stressed safety. But even with all the training and safeguards covered, accidents can happen – one tiny oversight can result in tragedy – it is a part of life for all of us.
    My prayers for Candy and her family, both at home and at BCR, 2 legged and 4.

  16. Thank you for this information and I am sending healing prayers to Candy that she may fully recover, and that nothing bad happens to Kimba as well. Thank you everyone for all your hard work and love that you give to all of the cats at BCR.

  17. I am so sorry. I am praying for candy and all of you. I have alwys been impressed with your double locking and safety protocols.

  18. I pray that kimba will not be put to sleep. He has had a very rough life and starving from what I read before he came to Big cat rescue. I hope that he will get to stay at big cat rescue .

  19. The impetus to help, to fix is very strong. I can see how this could have happened; it’s called being human. It’s why we repeat and repeat and repeat safety and rescue measures until they become automatic. It’s why little kids practice fire drills and adult fire fighters practice with controlled fires. We’re trying to train our brains to stay cool which means the blood stays in the prefrontal cortex where we are able to think/plan/predict consequences and respond. But for all our practice, we are human and can misstep or make a mistake.

    Poor Candy, poor Kimba! Both of them in a such difficult situation! Blaming/shaming doesn’t get any of us anywhere with this terrible situation. I’m so relieved that Kimba is up to date with all vaccines because it protects both of them. And thank heavens for the quick response of everyone at BCR for helping Kimba and Candy. Wow. Great work all around. I am so sorry that this happened to you Candy. So sorry. Very much wishing for a thorough recovery no matter how long it might take. (It is SO hard not to sound trite.) All the best to all of you.

  20. Very sad to learn of this accident. I hope Candy will recover quickly and completely.
    I’m sad to read about this accident. I hope Candy will recover completely and soon!

  21. I know Candy does not want Kimba put down. But are there any outside agencies that could force the issue? I would hat to see anything happen to any living thing that was only doing what comes natural.

  22. Prayers for the whole crew at BCR as well as for Kimba. It really does hammer home the facts about these animals and the respect they must be given.

  23. Thoughts and prayers for Candy and everyone at Big Cat Rescue. This was a horrible *accident* and goes to remind us all how powerful and *wild* these big cats are. Prayers for Kimba as well, because he was only doing “what comes natural” for a tiger. Love and prayers……

  24. My heart is broken!! I have followed these tigers since their rescue by ADI, and their transfer to Big Cat Rescue. I am keeping Candy in my prayers, hoping for a full recovery; but I am pleading with you, please do not euthanize Kimba just for being a tiger!

  25. i am a wildlife rescuer specializing in birds of prey. People do not realize it only takes 1-2 seconds of dropping your guard or being careless to get nailed. I pray she recovers okay. A reminder to us all to stay on top of our game!

  26. We all make mistakes. We animal lovers know the risks we take when we do our jobs working with them. And we all have those moments when our minds wander and we forget what what we are doing if only for a moment. I am so sorry to hear Cindy got hurt. My prayers go out to her and all or BCR for all that you do and the risks you take every day. Kimba was just being a tiger and I hope he had a long life at BCR.

  27. Sending thoughts love and prayers to candy and her family and Kimba. ??❤️??. Unfortunately accidents do happen. I pray God has mercy on Candy and Kimba.

  28. Candy, her family, every one at Big Cat Rescue and Kimba are in my prayers. I sincerely hope her arm can be healed. Beautiful Kimba just being a tiger shows why these amazing animals should never be pets. Please let legislation pass to regulate this.

  29. Please keep us posted on Candy’s surgery outcomes, if her husband will allow it…love to her & her family, and to the BCR Family

  30. Thank you for the update…Thoughts and prayers for the health and recovery of Candy and Kimba’s well-being. Perhaps an additional safety measure for lock-outs (i.e., hanging red metal tag for do-not-use/green metal tag for use)?

  31. Please save Kimba, it would only hinder Candy’s recovery if Simba was made to pay with life ,, please consider the negatives in this matter .

  32. My Prayers for Candy and her family and for Kimba. All volunteers are there because they love these animals with all their hearts. I am sure anyone who has given their time to help would never want any harm to come to Kimba. He is a wild animal after all….He has instincts and we all have made a split-second decision and realized afterward. We have all burned our hand or arm in a stove or oven….missed a turn or answered a phone while driving. Though we all know not to do things…we make mistakes. Kimba should not pay for that mistake and I’m sure Candy would agree. Best Wishes and prayers to you Candy and all the people who give their time and love to these animals. God Bless Each Of You. We Love You Candy and Kimba AND BCR <3

  33. My prayers Go out to Candy that her
    Arm can be saved. I know she feels awful about what happened but it was an accident and she needs to forgive herself for the mistake she made by putting her arm through the cage I pray that CDC will not put down Kimba for being a wild animal and reacting to protect his food. Dear GOD in heaven please heal Candy and save her arm , protect Kimba from being a wild animal and comfort all of BCR and
    Carole during this most distressing time.

  34. This incident just happened in the wrong time and place. Candy did it because she cared a lot of Kimba; onther hand Kimba reacted as it was his natural instinct. Speedy recovery for Candy & hope Kimba will be very well treated. Please don’t do any harm on Kimba.

  35. Prayers for Candy & her family & the cat family. so prayer that Kimba won’t be harmed. I have visited Big Cat & they take every precaution for everyone’s safety. This was a sad accident- i was just that.. an accident.

  36. Healing light to Candy and Kimba. Candy so sorry this happened sending prayers. And thank you for understanding Kimba and not wanting him harmed.

  37. A horrible tragedy. I so hope Candy makes a full recovery. Please please pass the Big Cat Safety Act and close all circuses permanently.

  38. My thoughts and prayers are with Candy and the family ?❤️ I am blessed and thankful that Simba will not be killed.

  39. I’m surprised this happened given the keeper’s experience but this just goes to show, sadly, that these are Wild Animals and they can never behave in any sort of domestic fashion…no matter how long they’ve lived in captivity or how well they know their caregivers. My heart goes out to Candy and for what she is suffering right now on all levels. Praying for her optimal recovery. ??

  40. This can happen even with the best trained animal caretakers. I’m aware of the staged volunteer tiers and that it takes YEARS to be approved to assist with the big cats. What a tragic incident. I am hoping for the best outcome for all.

  41. Keeping Candy and all of you in my prayers. You all do a wonderful job taking care of these cats and your safety protocols are excellent. I’m so sorry for all that negative jerks who will come out of the woodwork over this but know you all are much loved by your followers. You guy’s provide a wonderful forever home for these precious cats who are in captivity through no fault of their own and no fault of yours either. Thanks for all each of you do.
    Linda Martin

  42. I pray for both Candy & Kimba.. Candy my prayer’s are for you mostly..I will also pray that Kimba won’t have to die because of this.. Candy God Has Your Back I Totally Believe..Healing thought’s and Prayers???????❤❤

  43. Candy, Kimba, and everyone at BCR has my support. This was an unfortunate accident that could have happened to any of the keepers. We are all human and humans make mistakes. I wish I could come to BCR and give you all hugs.

  44. Carol, Candy, staff and volunteers. Abundant prayers to cover Candy in surgery amd as she recovers, amd to each of you, especially those who assisted Candy after the incident. Please please rank with each other. Take advantage of counceling and talk it out. In police work we have peer counceling. It is best because no one knows better what you are going through than someone who works along side you. So use each other. I am so sorry this has happened, and so proud of the emergency response on site. Amazing to say the least. We are all praying for all of you and that Kimba remains safe. I admire Candys wish to save him. It is the right thing and her love for the cats is quite evident. Abundant prayers for a successful surgery and a complete recovery. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Keep an eye on each other, you all know each other well, I know how the BCR family is, pay attention for any off behavior from your friends, and talk if you notice it. Much love, Sandi

  45. Sending healing thoughts and best wishes to Candy and all who are a part of BCR. Heartfelt appreciation to Candy for understanding the wild nature of Kimba and wanting the best for him. It takes a Lion heart to understand and love in the face of this tragedy. Candy you are a special soul?

  46. So dreadfully sorry that this horrifying accident happened. Prayers for Candy’s recovery, and for everyone at BCR. This really drives home the issue that ALL big cats are dangerous animals. It doesn’t matter how they were raised, and in some cases, even more so because of it.
    Calling to get the law changed is crucial, and I hope that because of all those who have made the call, our representatives will vote on its passage, so long overdue.

  47. Prayers n a speedy recovery to Cathy. We all make mistakes unconsciously n Kimba is a wild animal doing what comes naturally n should not be harmed. Will be keeping them both in my prayers.

  48. Accidents happen exactly why people should not be allow to own them. You guys are doing the best you can for other peoples ignorance. Pray they do not hurt Kimba and I pray for Cindy recovery

  49. Big Cat Rescue is the best Accredited Sanctuary around!
    Accidents happen! This was no fault of the Tiger. Prayers for Candy & family <3

  50. I do hope for the best for Candy. May she recover fully. I do hope Kimba will be saved from this ordeal. Kimba was only doing what big cats do, and it was natural for Kimba to go after food.

  51. Mistakes happen by humans and animals and that is exactly what this is. Bless Candy and I hope she makes a quick recovery

  52. I pray that Candys arm heals Ifeel so bad for her. She was trying to do a good thing .And the tiger was just being a tigar.

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