“The tiger didn’t maul her. The tiger was in his cage, and she violated his space by sticking her arm into his space,” Joe Schreibvogel said.
The defiant owner, who once promised a “small Waco” if the government tried to take his animals, claimed the worker “violated safety protocol” on Saturday morning at Garold Wayne Zoological Park when she reached into the cage.
The 400-plus pound tiger chomped down on her hand as the worker struggled to pull herself free.
“He tore her arm up pretty bad,” Schreibvogel said. “Her entire arm was still attached. It was badly, badly damaged.”
The woman, who wasn’t identified, was flown by helicopter for medical treatment.
Surgeons at the OU Medical Center were able to save the worker’s arm, according to a post on the park’s Facebook page.
The park shut down briefly after the attack but reopened on Sunday, challenging critics in an open message on Facebook.
The Humane Society sent an operative undercover to film scenes, including this one, at the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Okla.
“Some other facilities are already bashing us to gain self-profit from such a horrible accident but rest assured we have one of the safest parks around and care about our staff and animals. The park is open and we invite anyone and everyone to come see first (hand).”
Shreibvogel has lobbied loudly over the years to protect the right of private citizens to own exotic animals.
Flashy and flamboyant, his wardrobe often rivals that of Siegfried and Roy, and he bills himself as “Joe Exotic” in the park’s promos.
He sings atop a pickup truck in a music video for his country song, “I Saw a Tiger.”
He claims the park has rescued more than 1,400 animals and placed more than 1,200 in zoos and sanctuaries around the world.
Yhe Humane Society claims undercover footage shows humans and animals were in danger at the park.
But critics compare the park to a farm in Zanesville, Ohio, that became the scene of an animal massacre when owner Terry Thompson unleashed his collection of exotic predators shortly before committing suicide.
Ohio cops ended up killing 48 of the animals over safety concerns.
Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle told CBS News in 2012 the Oklahoma facility was a “ticking time bomb and potentially 10 times worse than Zanesville.”
Schreibvogel responded: “It is a ticking time bomb if somebody thinks they’re going to walk in here and take my animals away it’s going to be a small Waco.”
A Humane Society operative took a job at Garold Wayne in 2011 and secretly filmed a series of disturbing scenes, including Schreibvogel smacking animals.
“They don’t want to walk, pop him in the ass and make him walk,” Schreibvogel says in the video as he’s filmed smacking a tiger.
The footage showed another young tiger suddenly attack a toddler at the park before handlers pull him away.
Schreibvogel told CBS he suspected the Humane Society set up the attack, using the little boy as bait to push its agenda.
On Sunday, Garold Wayne was back in business. The park’s answering machine offered visitors an “African walkabout tour that includes playtime with a baby tiger.”