LOS ANGELES – A tiger living in actress Tippi Hedren’s wildlife sanctuary mauled a caretaker Monday afternoon, leaving the man in critical condition with multiple bites, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said.
The incident occurred about 3 p.m. at Hedren’s Shambala Preserve, about 40 miles north of Los Angeles in Acton, which houses about 70 African lions, Siberian and Bengal tigers, leopards, servals, mountain lions and bobcats.
Hedren said the 40-year-old caretaker was jumped by a tiger as the man was cleaning the animal’s enclosure. Fire officials airlifted the caretaker, who was not identified, to a hospital.
He was listed in critical but stable condition, said county Fire Department spokesman Brendon Peart.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing that has happened,” Hedren said, adding that many of the tigers in her sanctuary come from abused backgrounds.
“Who knows what happened to this tiger? People have kept them in closets, basements. Two of them were kept in air-conditioning systems.”
The tiger was a 4-year-old male. Hedren said officers from the California Department of Fish and Game visited the sanctuary Monday to investigate.
She described the tiger who attacked the caretaker as a “mutt” who probably was bred in the United States as an exotic pet. The tiger is one of the youngest at the shelter and doesn’t have a history of violence, she said.
Hedren said the preserve’s cats live in enclosures and are not trained.
Hedren, best known for her starring role in the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film “The Birds,” has been pushing for legislation that would crack down on people who have tigers as pets and would prohibit commercial breeding.