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73-Year-Old Former Las Vegas Entertainer Who Was Mauled By Tiger Explains What Happened

Wildlife director describes what caused the unexpected attack.

73-Year-Old Former Las Vegas Entertainer Who Was Mauled By Tiger Explains What Happened
Brenda Woodard/EyeEm/Getty Images, Sharon Kowalski/Facebook.

After suffering multiple injuries during a tiger attack an Arizona wildlife sanctuary director has released a statement taking responsibility for the incident.

During his days as a Las Vegas illusionist Jonathan Kraft, 73, learned first hand the neglect and abuse animal performers can suffer at the hands of their trainers.

It's what led Kraft later in life to found the Keepers of the Wild animal sanctuary in Valentine, Arizona as a place to rescue and protect the animals he had grown to love.

But on Monday Kraft was given a costly reminder about the wild nature of the animals he cares for.

In an effort to protect the animals from an approaching storm, Kraft made a near fatal error and was attacked by an 11-year-old Bengal tiger named Bowie.

In statement released on the Keepers of the Wild Facebook page Wednesday, Kraft and park officials explained what lead to the attack.

At the time of the incident Kraft had received a flash flood warning as a large thunderstorm was moving into the area. The sanctuary was being closed to the public and Kraft took "unilateral action" to move several of the sanctuary's large cats into their protected enclosures.

During this transfer a "safety protocol had obviously failed," according to the statement.

"Jonathan made the decision to shift Bowie's gates to allow him access to his den box area," sanctuary officials said.

"During the process, the usually docile behaving Bowie exhibited unusual conduct by suddenly pushing the gates prior to Jonathan being able to secure the safety clips."
"Animal Care staff rushed to assist Jonathan and remove him from the tiger's grip. Although Bowie lacks front claws, he took advantage of his strong teeth to hold onto Jonathan."

Kraft sustained multiple wounds and two broken bones from the attack.

He was taken to Kingman Regional Medical Center via ambulance and later transferred to a Vegas area facility for continued treatment. Doctors expect it will be several months before Kraft recovers from his injuries.

As far as the attack though, Kraft takes full responsibility for what happened.

"My accident with Bowie was my fault. I was concerned for his welfare and did not stay focused on him."

Kraft shared in his statement:

"It only takes a fraction of a second for a captive wild animal to revert to their instinctual behavior. These situations occur when there is human error."

Sanctuary officials added that following the incident Bowie is "fine and resting in his habitat."

Friends and fellow animal lovers were thankful for the update and relieved to hear that Kraft would recover.

Valerie Demetros/Facebook

Leslie Brearley/Facebook

Stacy Heyl/Facebook

Christie Killebrew

Peg Hathaway/Facebook

Though many were very concerned about what might happen to Bowie following the attack.

Nicki Emery/Facebook

Dawn Schramm/Facebook

But Keepers of the Wild assured fans that Bowie would always have a home with them.

Keepers of the Wild/Facebook

For which they were all very grateful.

Gretchen Simmer/Facebook

Bethany Snell Bayenderian/Facebook

Sheree Khollman Burns/Facebook

Keepers of the Wild thanked followers for their support and reminded those interested in helping them continue their mission can donate on their website here.