(Photo: The Indianapolis Star)
The Exotic Feline Rescue Center takes in animals from across the country that have been abused or abandoned.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A woman was in critical condition Friday at an Indianapolis hospital after being mauled by a tiger named Raja in Indiana's Clay County.
The attack happened shortly after 1 p.m. EDT at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, about 65 miles west of Indianapolis. A sliding door that kept the tiger contained after workers moved it did not shut all the way, allowing the tiger to escape, said a Clay County Sheriff's Department deputy.
The tiger lunged toward Marissa Dub, who was cleaning a cage, and bit her head. Workers used a hose to spray the tiger and tossed meat on the ground to distract the animal.
Within six minutes, workers were able to move the tiger back into a contained area without harming it.
The tiger is a male about 18 years old, said Rob Gambill, chief deputy at the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
"It was huge," he said. "It looked very menacing to me. It was a very large animal."
Dub suffered a head injury but was responding to questions after the attack, Gambill said. She was airlifted to Wishard Memorial Hospital in critical condition, causing reports of a "tiger attack" to air on the local 911 dispatch channels.
Dub is believed to be an intern, about 21 years old, Gambill said.
"This is such a sad deal," Gambill said. "This poor girl."
The Exotic Feline Rescue Center is home to more than 230 exotic felines, including tigers and lions. It takes in animals that have been abused or abandoned across the country.
The center opened in 1991.
This was the most serious incident at the center that Gambill could remember. He said a cougar escaped from the center several years ago. Search parties looked for it using night-vision goggles, Gambill said, but the cougar was never found.