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Leopard-attack victim suing Davie animal sanctuary

Dwight Turner, 50, was mauled just seconds after he ventured into a black leopard’s cage at an animal sanctuary behind a Davie home.
Dwight Turner, 50, was mauled just seconds after he ventured into a black leopard’s cage at an animal sanctuary behind a Davie home.

DAVIE, Fla. – The man who was attacked by a leopard is filing a lawsuit against the owners and operators of the animal sanctuary located behind a home in Davie.

Dwight Turner, 50, was mauled just seconds after he ventured into the black leopard’s cage back on Aug. 31.

“He went for the jugular, took [Turner’s] head in its mouth,” said Steven Lander, Turner’s attorney. “The ear was pretty much removed.”

The victim paid $150 for a close contact experience with the leopard at the home on Earnest Boulevard. The fee was to play with and rub the animal’s belly.

Turner signed a release for the experience, but the Fish & Wildlife Conservation says such close contact is illegal, which voids that release.

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.

Officers have already cited Michael Poggi, who has a Facebook page detailing how he runs the sanctuary for rare and endangered animals.

The victim’s attorney says the business let its insurance lapse.

“He let a man into a cage, [with] no insurance,” Lander said, noting that Turner will have “serious medical problems from here on out,” including migraines and neurological damage.

Poggi was also cited for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition — a negligent and dangerous act that cops say could have easily ended in death.


About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.