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Alleged Zoo Tiger Attack

January 26, 2005, 5:56 PM by Don Jorgensen

Alleged Zoo Tiger Attack

A man was rushed to the hospital after he says he was bitten by a tiger at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls. No one actually saw it, but a man claims he was attacked by one of the five siberian tigers on display at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum Tuesday afternoon while visiting the zoo.

The man needed stitches on one of his fingers, the question is how could this happen and what's the zoo doing to prevent it from happening again.

Siberian Tigers are wild animals, and one visitor found that out the hard way after he jumped a smaller fence and stuck his hand inside the tiger cage.

Dan Brands, Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum, said, "We don't know what the guy's intent was, as far as we know he was here for a day at the zoo because it was so nice," said Dan Brands of the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum.

The man, whose name isn't being released, claims one of tigers bit him on his hand requiring stitches.

Brands said, "We believe it was on his index finger. We offered him medical attention as far as calling 911, he refused saying it wasn't necessary."

The tiger cage is made mostly of this wire mesh fencing. Its larger openings allow visitors to see the animals better, but now zoo officials say they'll take a closer look at the fence and whether this attack could have been prevented.

"Not much more we can do, we could put signs up saying animals bite a lot of that is common sense and the question we have to ask is when do we start detracting from the exhibits by putting up too much signage or higher fences," said Brands.

This is the first incident at the zoo in quite some time, six years ago a young boy was bitten by a lynx, he too was in an area where he shouldn't have been.

And even though there are no warning signs at the tiger cage, officials say the man never should have been that close in the first place.

Officials at the zoo say safety of their visitors is important, but they're equally concerned about the safety of their animals. The five tigers are considered endangered. The zoo and its safety committee is going to be evaluating this attack and whether or not they need to make any changes.

Siberian Tigers, also know as Amur Tigers are the largest breed of tiger in the world. Adult males, like the one that was on display at the zoo at the time of the alleged attack, can weigh 800-pounds.

Illegal poaching and hunting have put the breed on the "critically endangered" list. There are only 800 tigers in the world. 400 in captivity and 400 in the wild.

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