OROVILLE, Calif. - After an incident that led to an injury at the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation on Saturday, there is some controversy about what happened.
"She is more concerned about the cat than herself. She will be home sometime today," Roberta Kirshner, director of the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Foundation, explained.
The incident happened with an Amur Leopard. Kirshner said she has had the park in Butte County for about 30 years and never had anyone injured.
"It was an incident because the girl was leaving the enclosure and she stumbled and the cat got confused and tried to get on her and it was just an excitement for him," Kirshner explained. "Different things can bring out the wild in them. It is like your home cat, if you step on its tail it will try and bite you and that is your pet that sleeps with you half the time," she said.
Kirshner said she is still piecing together what happened because she wasn't there, but adds, they have plenty of protocols in place.
"We are really safety conscious we follow routines," Kirshner said. "She evidently stumbled a little bit and the girl went to assist her and the cat got out into the enclosed area."
Kirshner explained they have two parts to the enclosure, so when the leopard got out, it was never a danger to the public.
However, Kirshner said they still added some new safety methods with him.
"We put new protocols with him also, so nobody has to go in with him. He has a lockout, most of our animals have lockouts, so he is calm and content," Kirshner said.
Since the incident, the leopard has been moved to an enclosure that has a lockout. That means nobody will ever be inside the enclosure while the animal is. Kirshner said they plan to add lockouts to about four to five more enclosures.
"We have foxes that weigh about six or seven pounds so we do not have lockouts on all the animals. But now he will definitely have a lockout and all the cats will have lockouts regardless of their age," Kirshner said.
PETA also put out a statement about the incident, claiming the Foundation is not safe for the animals there or the workers. PETA said they want to close down the sanctuary. They also claim Roberta Kirshner has purchased animals.
However, when Action News Now took these claims to Kirshner she said they are not true.
"We get contacted a lot on animals that have challenges. Most of our animals, about 70%, have special needs or challenges. A lot of times we may go to Oregon or Washington the volunteers may go to get them to give them another chance," Kirshner explained.
"Sometimes people can't afford to keep them when they are older, they don't realize what it costs," Kirshner said. "Sometimes they are not able to have their permits for them because they have moved to a different area and are trying to place them. Not all of them stay with us. We take them and if we can place them and feel it is a good match for them then we place them also."
To see the original article from the day of the injury you can click HERE.