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Man mauled by leopard behind Davie home; animal’s owner charged

Michael Poggi of Davie has been charged with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal and was cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition, authorities say.
Michael Poggi of Davie has been charged with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal and was cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition, authorities say.

DAVIE, Fla. – A man who paid $150 for a “full-contact experience” with a black leopard says he had to undergo multiple surgeries after he was mauled by the fully-grown animal in an enclosure behind a Davie home.

A picture obtained by Local 10 News shows Dwight Turner’s heavily bandaged head and ear after the savage attack, which detectives from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say happened behind a home on Earnest Boulevard on Aug. 31.

The man who lives there, identified as Michael Poggi, has a Facebook page saying he runs an animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals.

Authorities say Poggi was charged with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal and was cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition.

Investigators say Poggi charged the 50-year-old Turner $150 for a “full-contact experience” with his black leopard — to “play with it, rub its belly and take pictures.”

FWC’s report says that once Turner walked inside the enclosure, the leopard attacked.

A man who paid $150 for a “full-contact experience” with a black leopard in Davie says he had to undergo multiple surgeries when the big cat attacked.
A man who paid $150 for a “full-contact experience” with a black leopard in Davie says he had to undergo multiple surgeries when the big cat attacked.

The injuries were so severe, the report says the victim’s scalp was “hanging from his head and his right ear was torn in half.”

Attempts to speak to Poggi at his home have been unsuccessful.

Authorities say he is licensed to have the leopard. They say Poggi admitted to them, though, that what he did was illegal.

Turner’s attorney says that the entire experience was illegal, so any waiver his client may have signed before the experience would be void.

The attorney says Turner spent a week in the emergency room from his injuries.


About the Authors:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.