A 50-year-old Floridian visited a ‘back yard zoo’ and left with his scalp hanging off after being mauled by Dasha the black leopard whose owner he paid $150 for ‘full-contact experience including belly rub,’ Your Content has learned.
Dwight Turner was left in need of multiple surgeries after being attacked by the animal that belongs to Michael Poggi.
Poggi claims to run an animal sanctuary in Davie, Florida. He also owns at least one Capuchin monkey and a baby alpaca.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers said the leopard brutally attacked Turner as soon as he entered its enclosure. Turner’s scalp was “hanging from his head and his right ear was torn in half,” investigators said.
Investigators said Michael Poggi, 50, is licensed to have the leopard. He runs an animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals, WPLG reported.
Poggi was charged with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal, WPLG reported. He was also cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition.
The man who operates the backyard zoo is licensed to have the leopard, the report says. He was cited on a misdemeanor charge for allowing full contact with the predatory cat and for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition that injured someone, the report says.
The attack caught the attention of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. The unsafe environment endangered both humans and animals, campaigns coordinator Nick Atwood said.
“It is far too common for small zoos and quasi-sanctuaries in Florida to sell photo ops, play sessions or other ‘interactions’ with exotic animals,” Atwood said. “Both people and animals are put in harm’s way when the public comes into direct contact with captive wild animals.”
The Panther Ridge Conservation Center in Loxahatchee and McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary in West Palm Beach both house black leopards, Atwood said. Just in the past decade, there have been multiple incidents at both facilities in which big cats and other wild animals have harmed humans, reports the Sun-Sentinel.