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Tiger bites Oklahoma zoo worker who reached into cage

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - A tiger bit a worker at an Oklahoma zoo when she reached into its cage on Saturday and the injured woman had to be airlifted to a hospital for surgery, officials said.

The woman, who was not identified, was reported in stable condition, Joe Schreibvogel, owner of the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, said in a statement posted on the zoo's Facebook page.

It said the tiger latched onto the woman's hand when she put it inside the cage and pulled her arm through a four-inch-square (10-cm-square) hole.

Schreibvogel said the woman was "wearing a large goose down jacket which got bunched up inside the cage wire, not allowing her to get her hand back outside the cage wire fast enough."

He said the woman received immediate medical attention, was taken by ambulance to a hospital and later was airlifted to Oklahoma University Medical Center.

Schreibvogel said the worker planned to return to work once she had recovered.

Jim Mullet, undersheriff of Garvin County, Oklahoma, said zoo staff intervened to get the tiger off the woman.

Schreibvogel said the tiger would not be destroyed. Mullet said it had been placed in quarantine and the zoo would be closed while the Garvin County Sheriff and Oklahoma Wildlife Department investigated the incident.

The zoo was opened 1997 and is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the zoo's website.

The website says the zoo's aim is to provide homes for "abandoned, misplaced and abused animals, as well as those animals whose owners can no longer care for them."

It said it had so far rescued more than 1,400 animals and placed more than 1,200 in zoos and sanctuaries around the world.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and David Brunnstrom)

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