The Animal Attack Files
from London Daily Telegraph
|Tiger Bites Off Keeper's Arm
By Tom Leonard
Thursday 26 February 1998
A MAN working at the winter quarters of Chipperfield Circus was flown to hospital yesterday after his arm was bitten off and swallowed by a tiger.
Nigel Wesson, 38, is believed to have been feeding the animal through the bars of its cage at the circus's base in Chipping Norton, Oxon, when it seized his left arm, severing the lower half. He was flown to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where his left arm was amputated above the elbow.
Chris Hurley, a paramedic, said: "He had lost a great deal of blood. He said 'my arm's gone' and I knew straight away there was no point in trying to find it." An orderly said: "We asked him if he was allergic to anything and he smiled and replied 'only tigers'."
Staff at the quarters usually use a long stick to put food into the cages but it is believed that Mr Wesson, who lived at the site and had worked there for just a few weeks, had put his arm into the cage. Police said that some of the animals were in circus winter quarters while others there were used for film work.
Insp Roger Holworth, of Thames Valley Police, said that the four-year-old Bengal tiger would not be put down.
Last month, a member of the Chipperfield family was mauled by a tiger in Florida. Richard Chipperfield, 24, is still in hospital after a Bengal tiger clamped its jaws around his head during a photo-shoot. Graham, his brother and partner in the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, shot the animal. He quit the animal training business shortly afterwards.
A spokesman for Chipperfield Enterprises said: "Our family has bred tigers for 50 years and, up until January this year, we have never before had any kind of serious accident with a tiger."
The Chipperfields' treatment of animals was attacked earlier this month by Animal Defenders, a sister organisation to the National Anti-Vivisection Society. It claimed that lions and tigers at Chipping Norton spent 90 per cent of their time in small cages.
6 February 1998: Chipperfield says she was 'stitched up' by workers 3 February 1998: Circus men beat their animals on secret video 9 January 1998: Chipperfield may face charge over shot tiger
© Copyright Telegraph Group Limited 1998.