Tiger Attacks Florida Trainer During School Field Trip as Children Watch
A Bengal tiger scratched and dragged its trainer during a fair in Pensacola, Florida, on Tuesday.
A Bengal tiger scratched and dragged its trainer during a fair in Pensacola, Florida, on Tuesday in front of dozens of elementary school kids.
A video, which was taken by a student who was on a field trip to the Pensacola Interstate Fair, has been shared on social media.
“My daughter recorded it on her tablet,” Scott Caputo wrote on Facebook. “Holly thinks it was no big deal, I thought it was horrifying.”
A spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told PEOPLE investigators are looking into the incident.
“On the morning of October 25, a tiger injured trainer Vicenta Pages during a demonstration for school children at the Pensacola Interstate Fair,” FWC spokesman Rob Klepper said in a statement. “The tiger was never accessible by the public, and at no time were the school children or other members of the public in any danger. Ms. Pages was bitten and clawed by the tiger, and suffered substantial injuries to her leg. The tiger was immediately secured by a co-handler into another enclosure, and she was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
“The video of the incident will be included in our complete and thorough investigation. Once our investigation is complete, the findings will be available to the public. We expect all those we license to follow Florida’s very high safety standards.”
Pages was treated for a three-inch cut on her knee and a laceration on her ankle. She is now home with her family and in good condition.
“We’re dealing with wild animals here and although we take every precaution, accidents like this sometimes happen,” David Donnert, Pages’ fiance and co-owner of the show, called “Pages White Tigers Show,” told local news outlet, WEAR. “We know the hazards of our job, but we love these beautiful animals and Vicenta will be back as soon as she’s able.
“She has worked Tigers for I believe 16 years. She has never had a scratch and myself, I’ve been with her six years and we’ve never been attacked. I don’t consider this myself as an attack because it could’ve been way, way worse.”
Pensacola Interstate Fair officials responded to the incident in a press release on Wednesday.
“Fair officials did not witness the incident and relied upon an account statement provided by Pages White Tiger Show when responding to press inquiries. The fair apologizes for any misinformation. The Pensacola Interstate Fair does not condone the mistreatment of animals,” Pensacola Interstate Fair spokeswoman Katie King said in a statement. “The show has been canceled for the remainder of the fair. All other entertainment acts and exhibits will continue as scheduled.”