- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Surgeons were unable to reattach a zookeeper's arm torn off by a 350-pound lion as the woman took her parents and boyfriend on a behind-the-scenes tour of the animal's sleeping quarters at Busch Gardens.
The 21-year-old zookeeper, whose name was not released, was in serious condition yesterday, Busch Gardens said.
Busch Gardens officials said the 12-year-old lion would not be destroyed. But they announced a review of the amusement park's safety policies. State wildlife officials are investigating the Sunday attack.
The zookeeper, who had worked at the park for about a year, was taking her parents, her boyfriend and his parents on a tour when the lion attacked, severing her right arm near the elbow. No tourists saw the attack. It is not known how the lion reached the woman's arm, Busch Gardens said.
The arm was rushed to Tampa General Hospital with the zookeeper, but surgeons could not reattach it, hospital spokesman John Dunn said.
The lion, named Max, has been at Busch Gardens since 1997. The park also has a lioness. The lions were not put on display yesterday. They are part of Busch Garden's "Edge of Africa" exhibit and are rotated on display with hyenas.
"These are still wild animals, and they behave like that," said Glenn Young, the park's vice president of zoological operations. "This appears to be a freak accident at this point."
Max was separated from the visitors by a fence that would prevent someone from putting an arm into his cage. It would be possible to stick fingers in, Mr. Young said.
While by no means considered a tame animal, Max has been touched by his zookeepers before and responds to them when they call him by name.
Jack Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and whose television show, "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures," often originates from Busch Gardens in Tampa, said the zoo has one of the best safety records in the industry.
"For the numbers of visitors and the numbers of animals they have, I would say their record is in the top two or three of all the zoological parks in the U.S., probably the world," Mr. Hanna said.


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