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By LEONORA LAPETER ANTON, Times Staff Writer
Published November 11, 2007
In the past five years, captive wildlife have injured at least 124 people in Florida, according to state officials. Eighty-four incidents involved people who owned or trained the animals. Those designated the most dangerous -- lions, tigers, elephants, crocodiles, cougars -- were responsible for a third of them. Most people got hurt by less dangerous animals such as raccoons, marmosets and dolphins. Venomous reptiles caused 34 injuries.
The last death involving a captive wild animal in Florida was in 2001 when a tiger named Tie killed a 49-year-old volunteer at Savage Kingdom, a tiger breeding facility in Sumter County.
Nationally, 10 people have been killed by captive big cats since 2001. Congress is considering Haley's Act, which would ban all contact between big cats and the public. Two years ago Haley Hilderbrand, 17, was killed by a Siberian tiger while having her senior class picture taken at an animal sanctuary in Kansas.
Here are some Tampa Bay area wildlife injuries, not including those at zoos and theme parks:
Dec. 30, 2006: A 14-foot Burmese python named Cloe bit an 18-year-old animal handler at the Tarpon Springs Aquarium, wrapping itself around her arm as it tried to drag her into its cage.
Oct. 3, 2006: An albino monocle cobra bit an employee of Southeast Reptile Exchange while he was preparing the animal for transport.
Sept. 12, 2006: A tiger named Rula bit its handler in the upper arm and face after the handler stumbled in the tiger's muddy enclosure in Balm in unincorporated Hillsborough County.
April 13, 2006: Gizmo, a Capuchin monkey, bit a 78-year-old woman trying to feed it.
Feb. 27, 2006: A cougar at a Dade City facility bit someone who reached in to pet the big cat.
Feb. 9, 2006: A marmoset living in a St. Petersburg home bit a visitor on the right thumb.
Nov. 17, 2005: A 2-year-old ring-tailed lemur named Fonzie scratched a 34-year-old woman as the owner tried to pull the animal away with its leash at a Gulfport business.
Aug. 16, 2005: A ring-tailed lemur living in St. Petersburg bit a 35-year-old woman who tried to kiss it through its cage. The woman required surgery to her mouth.
Feb. 12, 2005: An infant tiger bit a 42-year-old Oldsmar woman on the hand during a photo event.
Oct. 28, 2004: A dusky pygmy rattlesnake bit a 48-year-old Holiday man who had a rodent in his hand. The man was not licensed to have the snake.
Dec. 7, 2003: A cougar in Brooksville bit an appliance delivery man who stuck his hand in the animal's cage.
Nov. 12, 2002: A coral cobra bit its Tampa owner while it was being fed.
Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
[Last modified November 11, 2007, 01:36:56]