Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 26th, 2009
But they are suppose to be extinct.
The Thomas County Sheriff’s office is investigating an incident involving the apparent mauling of an Oakley man by a lion.
The incident occurred Saturday [February 21, 2009], at a compound north of the Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 83 interchange.
Lion owner Jeff Harsh said a man who had been staying at the Free Breakfast Inn motel apparently made his way into an outer perimeter lion cage late Saturday evening.
Harsh, who was preparing to feed the animals, found the man with his arm over the top of a gate on the inner cage. A Barbary lion had grabbed the man’s right arm, according to Thomas County Sheriff Rod Taylor.
Harsh then drove the man, identified as Bradley Buchanan, to Citizens Medical Center in Colby. Buchanan was then transferred to a hospital in Denver for additional surgery.
Taylor said it appears Buchanan might have been under the influence at the time the incident happened, and said the photos taken of his arm show deep wounds, the lion’s canines apparently reaching the bone.
There has been a long battle about Harsh’s ownership of exotic animals, and Taylor said a hearing in Thomas County District Court on charges relating to the animals were dismissed pending the transfer of ownership of the three Barbary lions to the Detroit Zoo, in part through efforts made by PETA, an animal-rights group that has examined the lions.
Taylor said Harsh has agreed to transfer the lions to the zoo, which is supposed to travel to Oakley within 60 to 90 days to examine the lions and test them to ensure they don’t have any type of disease that could jeopardize animals at the Detroit facility.
If the tests are negative, the animals would then be loaded up and taken to Detroit.
Taylor said no charges are expected to be filed in connection with the Saturday incident, providing Harsh follows through on his promise to transfer ownership of the lions.
That doesn’t, however, resolve what to do with two tigers at the facility.
“I hope we find a home for the other two,” Taylor said.
Source: “Lion bites Oakley man; injuries severe enough to send him to Denver hospital,” The Hays Daily News By Mike Corn, Feb. 25, 2009.