Tiger attack victim in good spirits, says tiger owner

Published On: Oct 08 2013 07:12:02 AM HST

27-year-old Kelci Saffery is recovering at OU Medical Center after she was attacked by a tiger at GW Exotic Animal Park.

WYNNEWOOD, Okla. -

Kelci Saffery, a 27-year-old employee of the G.W. Exotic Animal Park, was attacked by a tiger Saturday morning, according to Joe Schreibvogel, who owns the tigers at the park.

"She's in good spirits, laughing and joking during our visit," he said.

Schreibvogel said Saffery has been working at the zoo in Wynnewood for nearly a year.

"She was probably one of the best people I have ever worked with," he said. "Most dedicated, you had to force her to take a day off."

He shared a handwritten statement that he said she wrote from the University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

"I, Kelci Saffery, release this statement to the press. On October 5th, I broke protocol and stuck my hand in a cat cage instead of using the stick provided. The cat let go and pushed my arm back through the age. This tiger was not aggressive towards me. I hope for a healthy recovery so I can return to work everyday with my tigers. -Saffery," the note read.

Schreibvogel said Tiger No. 7 attacked Saffery when she put her hand into its cage. He said he believes the tiger feels remorse over what he did and does not think the tiger poses a danger in the future.

"Tigers don't work like packs of wolves or hyenas," he said. "They eat raw meat every day of their lives and I think this is going to be an isolated incident."

According to park officials, the tiger has been moved to an area where he will not be exhibited. They said he will live out the rest of his natural life at the park.

"The tiger will not be put down," Schreibvogel said. "No one can force me to put that tiger down. Absolutely not."

As for Saffery, she is expected to stay at OU Medical Center for the next two weeks. Doctors told her she will have two years of surgeries ahead of her, but they expect her to get full use of her arm back.

Park officials said they will have a job for her when she is allowed to return to work.

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