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                   Tiger rips off volunteer's
                   arm at animal refuge
                   near Kiowa 

                   Woman was attempting to demonstrate to guest
                   that animal was tame; her condition critical 

                   By Kevin Vaughan
                   Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
 

                   KIOWA A volunteer at an animal refuge had
                   her right arm torn off Saturday by a bengal tiger
                   as she apparently tried to show a visitor that the
                   animal was tame.

                   The 28-year-old woman was flown to Swedish
                   Medical Center in Englewood, where she was in
                   critical condition Saturday evening and
                   undergoing surgery for her injuries.

                   "I think a mistake was made, and it was a costly
                   one," said Elbert County Sheriff Jeff Shaw.

                   A woman who answered the phone at the Prairie
                   Wind Animal Refuge late Saturday afternoon said
                   owner Michael Jurich was not available and hung
                   up.

                   Jurich opened the center, northeast of Kiowa, as
                   a home for refugees from zoos, fur farms and
                   hunting clubs. It houses scores of animals,
                   including lions, tigers and bears.

                   An AirLife crew left the refuge with the woman at
                   2:24 p.m., hospital spokeswoman Sara Spaulding
                   said.

                   The woman's name was withheld while her
                   husband tried to reach other family members
                   Saturday evening.

                   The refuge has a license from the Colorado
                   Division of Wildlife, Shaw said. Roughly 20 people
                   were at the refuge when the woman was injured.

                   He said the Denver woman, who has been a
                   volunteer at the center for six years, was talking
                   about the animals with a visitor. She was asked
                   whether the refuge's operators ever had problems
                   with people sticking their hands in the cages.

                   "She stuck her hand in, and one of the bengal
                   tigers came up to her and licked her hand," Shaw
                   said. "She scratched its nose."

                   Then the 2-year-old, fully grown tiger grabbed onto
                   the woman's hand, holding it tightly at first but not
                   breaking the skin. Within moments, it moved
                   further up the woman's arm, biting, and finally
                   ripped off the limb at the shoulder.

                   The woman's arm was not found, Shaw said.

                   May 21, 2000 

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