A 50-year-old man has filed a lawsuit after wildlife officials say he was mauled by a captive black leopard in a backyard animal sanctuary in South Florida. Dwight Turner paid $150 for a "full contact experience" with the black leopard, which allowed him to "play with it, rub its belly and take pictures," WPLG reported.
A report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the incident happened Aug. 31 in Davie, which is near Fort Lauderdale. The agency charged the owner with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal and was cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition.
WPLG reports that Turner is now suing the owners and operators of the animal sanctuary.
The owner runs a licensed animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals at the home, WPLG reported. Michael Poggi has a Facebook page detailing how he runs the sanctuary.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, leopards are classified as critically endangered, and black cats are very rare.
The man was attacked as soon as he entered the leopard's enclosure. The injuries were so severe that his scalp was "hanging from his head and his right ear was torn in half," the report said.
He required multiple surgeries, according to the TV station.
"He went for the jugular, took [Turner's] head in its mouth," said Steven Lander, Turner's attorney. "The ear was pretty much removed."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published on October 30, 2020 / 6:14 AM
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