The volunteer, identified as Candy Couser, was attempting to feed Kimba the tiger and reached into the animal’s cage to unclip a door, according to WTSP-TV in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Baskin told BuzzFeed that Kimba “grabbed [Couser’s] arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder.”
At the time of the attack, Kimba was locked in a section of the cage where he usually was not fed. Baskin said the clipped door is supposed to be the “universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist.”
Couser said she “just wasn’t thinking when she reached in to unclip it,” Baskin told BuzzFeed. She added: “It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it.”
Couser, who has worked at the sanctuary for five years, was pulled to safety by other sanctuary staffers who packed her limb in ice in hopes of saving it.
Emergency crews arrived within 20 minutes and rushed Couser to a local hospital for treatment.
Couser was still conscious when she was taken to the hospital and “insisted that she did not want Kimba tiger to come to any harm for this mistake,” Baskin told BuzzFeed.
Information on Couser’s condition was not released. Kimba will be placed in quarantine for the next 30 days.
The animal was “just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity,” Baskin told the Orlando Sentinel.