An employee’s arm was nearly ripped off by a tiger Jan. 25. The incident happened at Tiger Haven, Kingston, TN, and left 18-year-old Somer Stevens hospitalized with serious injuries.
According to sanctuary manager Mary Lynn Haven, as a cub the tiger involved in the attack, named Eeyore, had been bottle fed by Stevens and her fiancé, who also worked at the facility. Both Haven and police believe Stevens was petting Eeyore at the time of the attack, according to body cam footage.
Stevens claims she was watering Eeyore when she slipped and fell, but the area where the tiger’s water receptacle is located is not near where she was attacked, according to footage.
“That was straight bone. There was no bicep left, no forearm,” an officer says in the footage. “I bet she was petting him.”
Also captured in the footage is a troubling exchange between officers as they wait for Haven to obtain keys to show them the tiger involved in the incident. One officer questions what would happen if the tiger were in the back, and the other officer replies the tiger would “eat 17 of these,” gesturing to his gun.
“You think you can get 17 shots off before that tiger gets you?” the female officer asks.
“I think I can get five or six off in the face,” the male officer responds.
Tiger Haven has more than 260 big cats and the nonprofit is not regulated by the USDA, according to their website. Instead, it is regulated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, who has since closed their investigation into the tiger attack.
Tiger Haven is not open to the public and although officers took a tour of the facility Jan. 25, they turned their body worn cameras off first, leaving questions about the care and safety of the animals.
Stevens and her fiancé are no longer employed at Tiger Haven.
Incidents like the January tiger attack illustrate the strong need for laws regulating the captive ownership of exotic animals in the United States, to protect both people and animals from harm.
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