Over the weekend a veterinary technician was killed by a cougar at the WildCat Haven Sanctuary in Sherwood Oregon. This facility was founded in 2007 and had not had citations from USDA which monitors programs for safety for workers. The article did not say whether existing protocols had been followed. It is a tragic event. I only hope they review their safety policies and have staff re-training so that nothing like this can happen again. The large cats sometimes seem tranquil and friendly, but they are wild animals and can quickly revert to full wild behaviors. One forgets how fast and powerful these are. I was jumped one time in a clinic by a fairly weak cougar (he had recently had surgery) on a stout harness and leash. He was also declawed. But he knocked me flat and put a tooth through my shirt. Luckily he was pulled off. He had gotten out of his cage and we were trying to get him back in. There were 3 of us working him. Even so, I am lucky I was not hurt. And we were following protocols for his handling. This was a “pet” cougar. Even so his speed was incredible.
The big cats are wondrous and magnificent animals. But they are not domesticated in any sense of the word. They always need utmost respect.