Leon, one, had his finger ripped clean off by the predator at the Taigan Safari Park in Crimea as witnesses said the tiger reached over a barrier and swiped at the child
Image: east2west news)
A tiger tore off the thumb of a baby at a safari park after his mum reportedly held her son too close to the enclosure in front of horrified witnesses.
One-year-old Leon had his finger ripped clean off and it was impossible to get back from the predator at the Taigan Safari Park in Crimea, mum Anastasia said.
The 22-year-old said: “I took Leon into my arms. We were standing behind the fence, and there is a distance of about 30cm (1ft) between the fence and the net that separates visitors and animals.
“Everything was perfect – until I suddenly realised there was blood bursting, and my son had lost his thumb.”
Witnesses said the tiger reached over a barrier and swiped at the child.
Leon’s mum said: “My boy was yelling, crying, screaming.
“I was in such shock I couldn’t think. I ran to get help with him in my arms.”
She rushed to the park’s First Aid station to a nurse, and an ambulance took the boy to the hospital in Simferopol, Crimea.
The mum added: “I didn’t hear any sounds like a roar, or anything to alert me to danger.
“Other visitors who saw it said that a tiger jumped from somewhere above, and pulled my son’s arm with one of its claws.”
She claims the gap between the bars was big enough for the tiger to poke its paw through.
The Taigan safari park has not commented on today’s events.
Law enforcement has suggested the mum went beyond the safety barrier, which she denies, and the tiger bit her son’s thumb not clawed at it.
The park is run by Oleg Zubkov, who allows some visitors to “safely” mingle with untethered big cats.
He is regarded as a legendary lion whisperer and has been featured by the media around the world.
The mum says she will make a claim against the park for negligence.
Last month, a young woman was mauled to death by a tiger in a safari park after colleagues failed to tell her the door to the tiger’s cage she was cleaning had been left open, it has been reported.
Ecotourism graduate Catalina Ibarra, 21, was killed by the big cat at Safari Rancagua in the central Chilean city of the same name on Friday.
Catalina, 21, was working at the safari park at the time and was sent to perform cleaning duties when the fatal attack occurred.
The tiger leapt on the woman, bit down on her neck and she died instantly, according to reports.
According to her colleague Leonardo Maluenda, she was not told the tiger’s cage door was open.