A Henry Doorly Zoo veterinarian was hospitalized in fair condition after being bitten three times on the arm by a tiger Wednesday morning.
Dr. Douglas Armstrong was part of a crew giving the sedated 20-month-old, 200-pound Malaysian tiger a physical before shipping it off to the zoo in Wichita.
Al Holst was also a member of the crew examining the tiger.
"We took the cat out to weigh it, it was immobilized. As we were putting the cat back into the cage the cat on reflex reached up and took a hold of the arm of the veterinarian. The cat just basically reached up, opened its mouth and clamped down in reflex on his arm and with two to three inch canines, it leaves a big hole."
Zoo Director Dr. Lee Simmons believes the accident was a fluke. “I suspect that they inadvertently touched the cat's whiskers and that triggered the bite."
The tiger might have been coming out of his medicated sleep. Dr. Simmons says the zoo has been using a new type of anesthesia and it might not have been strong enough.
"We are using a different drug routine than we have in the past and when I was talking to Dr. Armstrong he said maybe this drug combination doesn’t hold them as well or as long."
The men working with the tiger have a lot of experience working with animals under sedation. Dr. Simmons said Dr. Armstrong, a 25-year zoo employee, is one of the best in the country.
Dr. Simmons said Dr. Armstrong would be okay, but his arm would be sore for a few days.