Carole Baskin is clearing the air after a tiger nearly tore off a woman's arm at her Big Cat Rescue.
Early in the morning on Thursday, Dec. 3, Florida's Hillsborough County Fire PIO confirmed to E! News that they responded to a call for an animal bite, noting the victim was treated on scene and then transported to a local hospital with a "serious injury." In a statement to E! News, Carole, whose animal sanctuary was featured on Netflix's Tiger King, called the incident a "mistake."
"This morning, during feeding, Candy Couser, who has been a volunteer at Big Cat Rescue for five years, and a Green Level Keeper (lions, tigers, etc.) for almost three years was feeding Kimba Tiger," Carole began. "She saw that he was locked in a section that was away from where he was usually fed and radiod the coordinator to find out why. Kimba had been locked away from that section for several days as cameras were being installed there."
The 59-year-old explained that Candy opened a door at one end of the tunnel and when she went to raise the second door she saw it was "clipped shut," which Carole noted is the sanctuary's "universal signal NOT to open a gate without the coordinator coming to assist."
"But Candy said she just wasn't thinking when she reached in to un clip it," Carole shared. "It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it. Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder."
When another employee heard the commotion, they came running and the tiger dropped his grip on Candy, who, according to Carole, "fell away from the side of the tunnel."
Candy's fellow staffers helped her to safety, with one holding the artery under her armpit to stop the bleeding and while another used his belt as a tourniquet. An ambulance arrived within 20 minutes. By this time, Candy was still conscious and was begging for the animal to be kept safe. As Carole said, "she did not want Kimba Tiger to come to any harm for this mistake."
Currently, as a precautionary measure, Kimba is being placed in quarantine for 30 days, explain Carole, who noted he was "just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity."
This is not the first time Carole has made headlines in recent months after appearing on the controversial Netflix docu-series. Back in September, she told Good Morning America her life has been a "nightmare" since Tiger King aired. "Well, Tiger King really glamorized animal abusers and villainized me for trying to stop animal abuse," she shared. "So, I felt really betrayed by that. But what amazed me was how many people believed that false portrayal of me without doing anything to find out who I really am."
In an attempt to change that image, she joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars season 29. "The biggest thing for me is that the longer my partner and I can stay in the running and in the competition, it will keep the cats forefront in the viewers' eye and to me," Carole, who was paired with dancing pro Pasha Pashkov, explained. "And to me, that was where Tiger King missed the ball. It really should have been focused on the animals. And so, I'm hoping Dancing With the Stars will do that."
Unfortunately for the pair, they were eliminated just weeks into the competition. In her final performance on Sept. 28, Carole dressed in a lion costume to dance to "Circle of Life" as part of the show's Disney theme. And despite her time being cut short, she succeeded in her mission. "I think all of the awareness that is raised from this has been wonderful for the cats," she said following her elimination. "That's been my main reason for being here is to try and end the cub petting and the private possession of big cats."