By Jamiel Lynch, CNN
A tiger attacked an employee of a Florida Everglades tourist attraction Tuesday, leaving him hospitalized with severe injuries, officials said.
The tiger was being fed by its caretaker in an enclosed area around 4:30 p.m. when another employee who was not authorized to go inside entered the enclosure, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said in a post on Facebook, citing preliminary information.
The tiger attacked the employee, identified as a 50-year-old man, injuring both his arms, the post said. He was taken to a hospital.
“The tiger’s caretaker was able to safely contain the tiger. The tiger is not injured,” the sheriff’s office said.
Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours in Ochopee confirmed the incident in a statement on its website. The business is licensed to care for tigers by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Department of Agriculture, its statement said.
“All of us at Wooten’s offer our sincere sympathies to the employee and his family, and wish him a speedy recovery,” the statement said.
The conservation commission was notified of the incident, it said in its own statement, echoing the accounts of the sheriff’s office and Wooten’s. It described the employee’s injuries as “severe injuries to his hands and arms.”
“This is an active investigation and we’ll release additional information when available,” it said.
In a statement to CNN, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urged the public to “avoid any place that exploits big cats for big bucks.”
“This incident could easily have turned deadly,” PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Debbie Metzler said. “But as long as the public believes it can ever be safe to pet a tiger, harass wild animals, or even step into their enclosures, this will happen again.”
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CNN’s Dakin Andone and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.