ER doctor explains the types of injuries that result from tiger attacks

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
(Credit: The Naples Zoo)

The jaws of a wild tiger are a deadly weapon. The force of a bite comes in at around a thousand pounds per square inch. And tiger teeth are among the largest of the big cats.

NCH emergency room doctor Benjamin Abo is also an expert in wildlife medicine. He is familiar with adverse animal encounters, he says tiger versus man can have catastrophic consequences.

“When you’re talking about encounters with a large cat, such as a tiger or a lion, they have very sharp teeth and very strong jaws. So you can not only expect avulsions or lacerations in bad cuts, which hopefully doesn’t affect the blood vessel, anything like that. You can also expect even bone-crushing injuries as well.”

Dr. Abo is not helping treat the victim who was bit by the tiger at the Naples Zoo. Lee Health is treating him. But Dr. Abo said time is of the essence when treating the victim.

“The biggest thing that I worry about is his blood loss. So depends on what was cut and how much was cut. That’s the biggest immediate life threat.”

We know the victim suffered horrific damage to his arm after reaching into Eko’s cage at the Naples Zoo. Abo says it is uncertain if his arm can be saved without knowing his current condition.

“When you’re talking about an encounter with a large cat like this, and any extremity, you’re definitely always at risk of losing that extremity, because of the injuries and that can be from damage that just couldn’t be controlled, to later on infection that would set in several days down the line.”

Working in and around zoos, Dr. Abo knew Eko and is mourning this tragic turn of events.

“When I heard of the news of what happened. I shed tears because it’s very sad what happened to the tiger. It’s sad that anyone would have a negative encounter with such wonderful wildlife.”

Dr. Abo said once a patient stabilizes, it is common to get treatment from vascular and orthopedic specialists if the limb is salvageable.

The last update from Lee Health on the condition of the man involved in the incident at the Naples Zoo is that he is in ‘fair condition.’

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