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Intoxicated woman breaks into zoo, tries to pet tiger, gets bitten

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium reported a frightening incident that took place over Halloween night — a woman, reportedly intoxicated, broke into the zoo and tried to pet a tiger.

However, as you might expect, the experience didn’t end well for her, as she was taken to the hospital for severe trauma to her hand. The zoo reports that the suspect made an attempt to pet an 18-year-old Malayan tiger named Mai, who is one of the most popular animals in the park because of her uniqueness and grace as she ambles around her enclosure with ease — she’s missing one of her front legs. She has dealt with the missing limb for most of her life, as it had to be amputated after it was caught in a trap when she was a cub. She was rescued and rehabbed for a few years in southern Malaysia before being relocated to Omaha’s gorgeous zoo.

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While the woman who broke into the zoo remains in the hospital for treatment, the Omaha Police Department cited her for criminal trespass, and further investigation is underway.

The Henry Doorly Zoo is just a couple of hours away from me, and I’ve spent plenty of time roaming the property as a child, and now I do as a parent. In fact, we went in 2014, and my youngest daughter was particularly transfixed by Mai and her unusual gait. This is not an uncommon experience, as many who responded to the zoo’s announcement shared similar stories about the beautiful cat.

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Amid these stories was plenty of concern for the fate of the creature. Fortunately the zoo has responded, assuring us that Mai is under no scrutiny — nor in any trouble at all:

Omaha Zoo's statement about Mai
Image: Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo/Facebook

Breaking into a zoo is not only a criminal act; it’s extremely foolhardy and completely dangerous. While Mai is an attractive animal and it looks like it’d be fun to pet her, I can only imagine her fear when approached by an unauthorized individual with groping hands — in the dark. It is no wonder that she snapped at the intruder by instinct, and it’s only proper that she go unpunished for doing something wild animals simply just do.

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It’s not clear why this person thought jumping into a zoo and trying to pet a tiger was an awesome idea. Reports are that she was combative at the hospital and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so that most likely played a part in her poor decision-making. While I certainly don’t wish any ill to her and hope she makes a good recovery, there is a valuable lesson here that we all must take away from her ill-advised adventure — don’t try to pet tigers, and if you try to and get bitten, don’t expect to earn anything more than pain for your troubles.

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