Michelle Rossi, a known exotic animal dealer, has filed a lawsuit against tiger trainer Adam Burck of Royal Bengal Tigers after she was allegedly mauled by one of his tigers.
The lawsuit was initiated in Choctaw County District Court in Oklahoma in late December.
Documents indicate that on January 6, 2020, one of Burck’s tigers mauled Rossi at Burck’s home in Grant, Oklahoma. Rossi is asking to be awarded damages of more than $75,000.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Burck’s Royal Bengal Tigers traveling circus act 12 times in the past year, for violations that included keeping the tigers in hot, cramped, unsafe conditions in a barn in Illinois. The facility was infested with flies and maggots, according to the USDA report. A 15-year-old tiger named Shere Khan was noticeably thin with prominent hips and vertebrae and had not been seen by a veterinarian in more than a year, documents indicate.
In August 2021, Burck was cited with an Official Warning, indicating that continued USDA violations could lead to additional action.
USDA records indicate Burck transferred his tigers to his home in Oklahoma sometime in late 2021. The USDA completed an inspection at Burck’s home in January 2022. The USDA attempted to conduct an additional inspection at Burck’s home on March 22, 2022, but inspectors were unsuccessful. Documents indicate inspectors rang the doorbell twice, called Burck twice, left a voicemail and waited 25 minutes for Burck to arrive.
Burck’s license to exhibit his tigers is currently listed on the USDA website as canceled.
A blog from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) indicates that after Burck’s USDA license was canceled, he transferred his tigers to Ryan Easley who owns Growler Pines Tiger Preserve in Hugo, Oklahoma, and is also well-known for forcing his tigers to perform in circus acts.
Rossi is an exotic animal breeder and dealer whose social media page is filled with photos of Geoffrey's cats, servals and savannahs, a hybrid species created by breeding a domestic cat with a wildcat. Many of the exotic cats listed on Rossi’s page are for sale.
Documents submitted in the lawsuit indicate that Burck “knew or should have known before Michelle Rossi was attacked that the animal was an abnormally dangerous animal with dangerous propensities.”
In one advertisement online, Rossi claims to have 20 years of experience working with exotic and wildcat species. With two decades of experience working with wildcats, It is unclear how Rossi could be unaware that interacting with an adult tiger is dangerous.
Download the lawsuit petition: