A Florida man has filed a lawsuit after he was mauled by a captive black leopard in a backyard animal enclosure in South Florida, CBS News reported.
The incident happened in Davie near Fort Lauderdale, on August 31, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 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 Dwight Turner, 50, paid $150 for a “full contact experience” with the animal, which allowed him to “play with it, rub its belly and take pictures.” He is now suing the owner of the black leopard after he was mauled.
Turner’s attorney says that the entire experience was illegal, so any waiver his client may have signed before the experience would be void, according to the report.
The owner of the animal, Michael Poggi, has a Facebook page which claims he runs an “animal sanctuary” for rare and endangered animals at the home.
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.
Turner 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.”
Leopard-attack victim suing Davie animal sanctuary that was operating illegally https://t.co/2JMfNYRD9H
— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) October 29, 2020
Authorities say the owner is licensed to have the leopard. They say Poggi admitted to them, though, that what he did was illegal, according to WPLG.
Turner’s attorney said his client spent a week in the emergency room from his injuries, according to the report.