Volunteer bitten by orangutan at Jungle Island

Woman taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Christian De La Rosa - Reporter

MIAMI - An experienced volunteer at Jungle Island was injured by an orangutan Wednesday afternoon, Jungle Island spokeswoman Rachel Pinzur said.

Miami Department of Fire-Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll confirmed that the victim was bitten by the animal and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Pinzur said the incident occurred about 3 p.m. 

"The internal emergency response team at Jungle Island and primate keepers were swift to respond to the aid of the volunteer who has been transported to the hospital," Pinzur said in an email.

Local 10 News reporter Christian De La Rosa was told that the victim is a woman who has worked in the park's orangutan enrichment program for several years. 

Pinzur said the injury was non-life-threatening.

"We're very happy that it was a non-life-threatening injury and we will be looking at everything that happened to learn from it if we can," Jungle Island Managing Director Christopher Gould said. 

PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet released a statement Thursday, condemning the incident.

"No reputable animal-care facility would allow a volunteer anywhere near the teeth of a wild animal who is strong enough to bite a finger clean off," she said. "Jungle Island in Miami has a history of endangering the public, including an incident in which a tiger scaled a 12-foot barrier, escaped, and ran amok for an hour, causing a panic that injured several visitors, including a 15-month-old baby. This isn't the first time that Jungle Island has sent someone to the hospital, and PETA warns that as long as this facility still forces lemurs, sloths, and other wild animals to interact with the public, it likely won't be the last."

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