A volunteer at Oroville’s Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary was hospitalized over the weekend after an Amur leopard mauled her during a feeding.
The seasoned volunteer was transported to Enloe Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries and the “special needs” leopard was moved into a solitary enclosure. According to the sanctuary, all protocols were followed during the incident with the cat who was raised in the facility.
“These are dangerous animals,” said sanctuary director Roberta Kirshner to the Enterprise Record. “I’ve been doing this 30 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen.”
The popular wildlife sanctuary is under fire from PETA following the incident for allowing its volunteers into the enclosure with the animals.
“PETA hopes the public will now see this so-called “wildlife foundation” for the sham sanctuary that it is—an outfit with a history of Tiger King–style cub petting, a previous penalty for endangering the public, and a volunteer’s blood on its hands,” wrote the animal rights group in a statement.
The volunteer had many interactions with the cat in the past and followed all protocols in place, including never turning her back and relaying consistent commands. The facility is looking into the incident to be sure similar incidents are avoided in the future.
The Amur leopard involved is one of few left on the planet. In 2019, it was estimated that the population sits at only 90 leopards. They are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine