Animal sanctuary in Apopka responds to leopard attack at South Florida facility

Poggi’s Animal House in Davie, Florida is under investigation. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers are reporting that a man paid $150 for an encounter with a black leopard and wound up getting his scalp shredded. 

“That’s a kill bite,” said Christin Burford, owner of CARE Exotic Animal Rescue and Wildlife Sanctuary in Apopka. “He’s lucky to be alive. That's typical of a leopard. A leopard and a jag will go for the head very typical. It did not surprise me at all it happened.”

Burford has been working with big cats for most of her life.  Right now, she has a couple of rescue tigers and a rare liliger.  She shared a picture with FOX 35 News of a black leopard that she rescued years ago. 

“They're wild animals and need to be respected. Only people that know that animal and that know how to deal with that type of animal should be around that animal,” Burford said. 

That’s one of the reasons her big cats are kept behind double enclosures, keeping guests from trying to sneak a hand inside to pet these large exotic creatures. 

“First of all, it's illegal to take anybody in with a large cat, a dangerous animal like that over 40 pounds. so he was breaking the law just blatantly breaking the law there,” Burford said.  

Burford said any time something like what happened with that black leopard in South Florida happens, it puts all wildlife sanctuaries and rescues in jeopardy. 

“When the cobra got loose and was missing and all. laws changed for those of us who have venomous snakes.  I have venomous, so it affects all of us. It's not a single problem. This guy just created a big problem for those of us that have big cats and exotic animals. It's not deserved for the rest of us,” Burford said.