Why we shouldn't play with wild animals like pets
Article as follows from the New Zealand Herald Website
NZ aid worker mauled in Thai tiger enclosure
4:00AM Tuesday Jan 27, 2009
By Vaimoana Tapaleao
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A New Zealand woman is in hospital after being mauled by a tiger in Thailand.
Ruth Corlett, 45, was at an enclosure on Sunday with her family when the female tiger jumped at her and bit her leg.
Mrs Corlett was rushed to hospital, where she received 54 stitches on the wound.
Thai media reported that Mrs Corlett touched the year-old tiger's head before it jumped at her in the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre.
Mrs Corlett travelled to Thailand with her husband and three children in 2007 to work with an organisation that runs orphanages, emergency relief and development programmes on the Thai border.
Her husband, Stuart Corlett, said last night that his wife was still in hospital and was doing "okay".
"It was just at one of those tiger places where people are allowed to play with the tigers," he said. "She was near one of them and the thing just jumped up and bit her in the leg. But she's okay now."
The owners of the tiger enclosure have offered to pay for all of Mrs Corlett's medical expenses.
A staff member at the enclosure said the tiger that attacked Mrs Corlett - named Pancake - was usually very friendly and had been trained to stay with humans.
"Pancake has never bitten anyone before, despite being played with by tourists very often," the staff member said.
"The [New Zealand] woman touched the tiger on its head and suddenly the sleeve of her arm, or the cloth of her shirt, got into the eye of the tiger and the tiger got irritated."
Local Thai media reported that Mr Corlett is looking to sue the Chiang Mai tiger enclosure, but the Herald could not confirm this last night.
Staff at the centre have said that the case has not been filed with police.
And the latest update to this story below
Updated 6:10PM Tuesday Jan 27, 2009
By Andrew Koubaridis
A New Zealand aid worker has told of watching a tiger bite his wife in the leg and then attempt to drag her away.
The incident happened at a tiger enclosure in Thailand that allows people to pat tigers that have been domesticated and trained.
Stuart Corlett and his wife Ruth were at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre with their three children on Sunday when a female tiger called Pancake suddenly clamped down on Mrs Corlett's leg, just missing her femoral artery.
She had crouched beside the tiger, posing for a photograph, when the trainer told her to stand up.
"The tiger jumped up and bit her in the leg. It narrowly missed her femoral artery - the bite was two inches away. If it had severed that artery she would have had minutes to live," Mr Corlett said.
She is recovering at home from the ordeal. The family have lived in Thailand for nine years and work for a relief agency that helps refugees on Thailand's border.
Mr Corlett said reports that his wife had touched the tiger on the top of its head and that her sleeve caught the tiger's eye were wrong.
"The trainer hit the tiger on the head with a stick just before the bite."
He added that photographs showed his wife wasn't even wearing a long-sleeved shirt so that couldn't have caught the tiger's eye.
A friend of the couple, Auckland teacher Daniel Charman, tried to pull the tigers jaws open but couldn't and the tiger attempted to drag Mrs Corlett away.
"He grabbed hold of [Mr Charman's] leg so it couldn't drag her away. The trainer whacked it on the nose then turned and left. They [staff] said he was going to warn others but in my opinion he was fearful for his own safety."
The tiger let go of Mrs Corlett's leg and she was left bleeding on the ground.
"Daniel picked her up and threw her over his shoulder and they got out of the enclosure."
Mr Corlett said staff at the centre were ill-equipped to deal with a medical emergency.
There was no first aid kit and they were told the only medical officer was on a day off.
She was eventually taken to hospital in the back of a staff member's Toyota Corolla suffering from shock and barely conscious. Her wound required 54 stitches.
Mr Corlett told the Herald last night he was told by a tour guide the tigers were probably sedated.
"My opinion is the tiger was coming out of a sedated state and was confused and probably grumpy."
The couple have spoken to their lawyer and hope to settle out of court. They want Mrs Corlett's medical expenses paid but would only settle if the tiger centre sets up a safety committee and has a clear policy manual.
Tiger-taming teacher also involved in canyon tragedy
4:00AM Saturday Jan 31, 2009
By Andrew Koubaridis
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The Auckland teacher who intervened in a tiger attack was one of the heroes of the Elim School canyoning tragedy.
Daniel Charman watched in horror last weekend as his friend Ruth Corlett was bitten on the leg by a tiger at a Thai tourist venue that allows people to get close to tigers which are supposedly domesticated and trained.
But moments after Mrs Corlett posed for a photograph with a tiger it leapt up and mauled her leg before trying to drag her away.
"It raised its head and looked over at Ruth ... then it just lunged," Mr Charman told the Weekend Herald yesterday.
As the tiger tried to pull her away, Mrs Corlett grabbed hold of his leg. "I'm a big guy and I never thought I'd say it, but it's nice to be big - my weight probably kept us both from being dragged away," he said.
The tiger was still clamped down on Mrs Corlett's leg so he reached out and grabbed its head.
"Looking back, it seems a bit thick but I tried to grapple this tiger's mouth open. I wasn't really yanking it open but sort of tried to prise its [mouth] open."
He acted because no one else seemed to be doing anything to save Mrs Corlett.
"It was one of those moments where everyone was doing nothing. I didn't see anyone do anything, they were just backing away. There were no screams or yells or anything." The trainer did return and hit the tiger on the head, making it release Mrs Corlett.
"Maybe again it was just an instinct thing but it was just that they [centre staff] were so unprepared that I looked at Ruth's leg and I knew from her groans that this was heavy stuff. I told her to get on my shoulders and we got out of the enclosure."
She was taken to hospital where she needed 54 stitches to close the wound.
Mr Charman said he couldn't believe he had found himself in another dangerous situation so soon after the Elim Christian School tragedy at Mangatepopo.Sourced from the New Zealand Herald Website