Employee Attacked By Tiger At Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park Returns To Work


Monday, October 21st 2013, 6:53 pm
By: Dana Hertneky


The employee who was badly injured by a tiger at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park is now back at work.

Kelci Saffery returned to work on Wednesday, eleven days after she left by air ambulance with massive wounds caused when a tiger grabbed her arm.

According to those at the park, Saffery was moving tigers from one pen to another to feed them when she reached into an opening in the gate. Saffery and park officials say that was against protocol.

The first cold day of the year, Saffery, or Saff as she is known was wearing a down coat and gloves.

10/7/2013 Related Story: Wynnewood Zoo Official Defends Park, Updates Mauled Worker's Condition

"He bit my hand and like I said he thought it was a toy so he put my claws on me," she explained. "Once he realized it wasn't a toy, he completely let me go."

That arm is now gone even though Saff says she had full function of her fingers and doctors said they could save her hand.

"They said it was going to be years and years of reconstructive surgery. That's not something that sat well with me because that means I can't be here on the park doing what I love and doing it every day."

10/7/2013 Related Story: GW Exotic Animal Park Identifies Employee Injured In Tiger Mauling

Saffery was back at the park the day she was released from the hospital. The girl who when she was growing up asked her parents for a tiger every birthday says she has no anger.

She buried both parents and during her time in the Army was deployed to war zones in both Afghanistan and Iraq. At 27, she's learned a valuable life lesson.

"You got to take what you got and run with it, other than that you're just living a life that isn't even worth it."

She doesn't blame the tiger.

"It was him being him," she says, "He didn't change anything that day, I did.'

Her only regret is the negative publicity it brought to the park, and its owner Joe Schreibvogel.

"Something that I did wrong, they took that to use it against him, that hurt me," Saffery said tearfully.

The actual tiger involved in the incident has been quarantined.