TAMPA, Fla. — A volunteer at the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary was seriously injured Thursday morning while preparing to feed a tiger and nearly lost her arm, stated the sanctuary.

What You Need To Know

  • Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to person bitten by animal at Big Cat Rescue

  • Volunteer Candy Couser taken to hospital with "serious" injury; not condition reported

  • Animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue is owned by Carole Baskin, featured in hit Netflix show "Tiger King" 

Emergency crews responded to the compound, located at 12802 Easy Street in the Citrus Park area of north Tampa, around 8:30 a.m. 

According to the Big Cat Rescue Facebook page, Candy Couser suffered an injury to her arm when a tiger named Kimba "grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder."

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials said emergency crews responded to the park and transported Couser to St. Joseph's Hospital with a "serious" injury.


According to Big Cat Rescue officials, Kimba had been locked away from that section for several days as cameras were being installed there. Couser 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.

Officials said Couser should not have opened the gate without the coordinator coming to assist. The ambulance arrived within 15 to 20 minutes of the accident.

The tiger was 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, stated the sanctuary.

Neflix's Tiger King

The facility is owned by Carole Baskin, who has been in headlines recently after the hit Netflix series "Tiger King" aired.

Tiger King was a documentary series about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as "Joe Exotic," an eccentric former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves big cats.

Earlier this year, Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. He was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, who had tried to shut him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals and selling big cat cubs.

In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Baskin's former husband, Jack "Don" Lewis.

The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage's repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin hasn't been charged with any crime and has repeatedly released statements refuting the accusations made in the series.

Maldonaldo-Passage is currently in prison.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.