CENTER POINT, Ind. - The condition of an employee at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center has improved to fair condition after she was bitten by a tiger on Friday.
Marissa Dub, 21, was injured by a tiger named Raja after workers said she inadvertently left a gate open.
The tiger knocked her to the ground and latched onto her neck.
Founder Joe Taft said Dub made a grave mistake.
“We didn’t know how serious her condition was. None of us touched her, but the first responders were here almost immediately. We barely got the tiger contained when they got here,” Taft said.
Animal keepers lured the tiger away after the tiger had held Dub for about six minutes.
Taft has operated the rescue center for almost 23 years. He said there have been minor incidents where employees were bitten, but nothing to the degree of last week’s accident.
The center houses more than 230 large cats on over 100 acres.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture began their investigation into what Taft calls an incident and not an attack.
Taft said if the tiger had actually attacked Dub, she would not have survived.
“We’re not here to get hurt or take risks. We’re here to take care of these cats and do it in such a way that we’ll be here for them tomorrow,” Taft said.
Dub was a former intern who had worked as a full-time employee for a year.
Her family declined to talk about her injuries and said only that she was recovering.
Investigators will continue to look into what mistakes were made.
Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt