Tiger attack investigated - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Tiger attack investigated


ROCK SPRINGS (WKOW) -- Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are investigating a tiger's attack on a volunteer at a Sauk County wildlife rescue facility.

"In terms of the tiger attack, we will be checking on whether there were any violations of the Animal Welfare Act," USDA spokesperson Dave Sacks said.

"We will look at how the facility handled and trained the animal."

Sauk County Sheriff's Captain Kevin Fultz said department officials are assisting USDA personnel in reviewing what happened.

The Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue and Education Center is licensed by USDA.

Center co-founder Jeff Kozlowski has yet to return a call from WKOW27 News for comment.

As of Sunday, John Meeker, 38, was a patient at UW-Hospital after being taken by Med-Flight helicopter from the center after authorities said a Siberian Tiger bit Meeker.  

UW-Hospital officials Saturday listed Meeker's condition as good. UW-Hospital spokesperson Toni Morrissey said hospital officials would have no further comment.

Meeker's wife has told WKOW27 News Meeker was watering the tiger when the animal grabbed the sleeve of Meeker's sweatshirt and pulled his arm into the tiger's enclosure. She did not describe her husband's injury as life threatening. 

Meeker's wife has called the incident an accident with a playful tiger, as opposed to an attack.

Sauk County Humane Society Executive Director Christian Russo characterized what happened to Meeker as a "small bite" and also described the incident as an accident.

UW Med-Flight's web site describes the service's mission to "evacuate critically-injured patients."  

Morrissey said Meeker's condition was grave at the time of animal's bite Friday.

"The doctor on scene said it was a serious injury," Morrissey said in explaining the decision to summon Med-Flight.

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