Woman loses part of finger during lion attack - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Woman loses part of finger during lion attack

IOSCO COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A woman ended up at the hospital after being bit by a lion right here in Mid-Michigan.

It happened over the weekend at a local zoo, after the victim claims a zookeeper allowed her into the cage with the animal.

"I was totally in shock. I really didn't believe that was part of my finger laying on the ground," Renae Ferguson said.

Ferguson and her daughter Tina Dobson said the lion attack happened at the Sunrise Side Nature Trail and Exotic Park near East Tawas. They were visiting the zoo last Saturday when they claim a worker let them into the lion's cage.

"I put my hand down there to pet it and it ripped my finger," Ferguson said.

Ferguson had part of her right middle finger bitten clean off. But instead of coming to their aid, they allege the owner of the business wanted to keep it quiet.

"They just told me not to tell. They told me to lie," Ferguson said.

"I would like to see more precautions taken to protect the people as well as the animals," Dobson said.

Ferguson said she hopes the zoo stays in business and she says she's learned a lesson, regretting the attempt to pet the large animal. But feeling fortunate to have only lost a finger. She's fearful something worse might happen to someone else next time.

"They are beautiful, but don't do it," Ferguson said.

She said she is planning to seek legal action against the zoo.

"The lady went into the security area and was told by the guide to get back and the lady stated she wanted to touch the lion and continued, against the guide's warning, to put her finger inside the fence and the lion nipped the end of her finger," the owners of the zoo said in an email.

The owners said there are warning signs and bite signs everywhere and Ferguson walked into a restricted area behind the guide, after she was told not to.

The zoo denies Ferguson's claims, saying she went against orders by entering the lion's cage.

TV5 set up an interview to speak with the owners of the zoo on Wednesday. The owners, acting on the request of their lawyer, changed their mind and will not be speaking out on the incident.

Copyright 2014 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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