Patty Perry, 66, the founder of Wildlife Environmental Conservation (WEC), was left with several cuts and puncture wounds following the attack in Moorpark on Dec. 7.
According to the sanctuary’s attorney, Michael Bradbury, the park had been hosting an open house for donors and supporters at the time the incident occurred.
During the event, Perry entered the tiger’s cage, as she did every day, when they attempted to play with her.
However, she was quickly pounced upon by two Bengal tigers, with one wrapping its paws around her legs, knocking her to the ground, and the second tiger grabbing her head, causing injuries.
“She fell on the ground, and another tiger jumped on her and began to pull on her before they got her out, and she got some lacerations,” Bradbury told the outlet.
Despite the terrifying incident, Bradbury said that Perry does not think the animals intended to cause her harm.
“A lot of people I’m sure that saw it were horrified thinking the worst. She [Perry] said it was obvious they were playing with her because they do love her. She raised them from babies,” he added.
Several witnesses, including members of the fire department who were attending the event, rushed to Perry’s aid and she was taken to Los Robles Health System in Thousand Oaks, with lacerations to her head and shoulder, the Ventura County Star reported.
The wildlife conservationist remains in hospital as officials investigate the incident. Bradbury said animal control is aware but he doesn’t expect any repercussions.
Meanwhile, Perry is said to be heartbroken by the incident and plans to return to working with the tigers once she has taken time to recover.
“It’s never happened before. She’s gone in on hundreds of occasions. …She hopes to get back to it soon,” Bradbury said.
According to its website, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Inc. is a nonprofit founded more than a decade ago to educate the public about conservation.
Many of the animals that come to the center from private individuals, veterinary hospitals, and other sources, need rehabilitation because of problems stemming from an uneducated owner, the website states.
Bradbury said the Moorpark facility hosts about 50 different animals on site, including leopards, birds of prey, and zebras.
Perry, the founder and director of WEC, also serves as vice president on the board of the International Wildlife Education Coalition, an organization designed to cultivate, promote, and support viable conservation sources in an effort to preserve the natural world.