A man who recently paid for a photo op with a black leopard got seriously injured and ended up in the hospital. According to the reports, the victim paid $150 for a “full-contact experience” with the leopard in a backyard zoo in South Florida. But instead of petting the animal and shooting selfies with it, the man got mauled and required multiple surgeries.
The incident took place on 31 August at Poggi’s Animal House, a place that AP describes as a “backyard zoo.” In the promo videos, you can see the owner, Michael Poggi, playing with the leopard and petting the animal as if it were a house cat. According to WPLG Local 10 News, Poggi runs an “animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals.” At least that’s what was reportedly written on his Facebook page, which has been removed.
The victim, Dwight Turner, reportedly discovered Poggi’s Animal House through Facebook. He paid $150 to “play with [the leopard], rub its belly, and take pictures.” However, as soon as he entered “the sanctuary,” the big cat attacked him. In the video report above, you can see a photo of Turner’s head in bandages, and his injuries are described in more detail which I’d rather skip here for those of you with a weak stomach. The bottom line is: instead of playtime, photos, and belly rubs, there were some serious injuries that required multiple surgeries.
WPLG Local 10 News reports that Poggi is licensed to have the leopard. However, the “full-contact experience” that he offered was illegal. This is what Turner’s attorney reportedly says as well. Therefore, “any waiver his client may have signed before the experience would be void.” The same source notes that Poggi was charged with “allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal,” but he was also cited for “maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition.”
Honestly, I don’t know what people are thinking when taking photos with wild animals. This almost never ends well, and it’s either the animal or the human that gets hurt or dead. Thankfully, Turner at least survived the attack. Not all people who tried taking photos with wild animals were that lucky.