Florida Man Critically Injured By Black Leopard After Paying for ‘Full-Contact Experience’

by Thad Mitchell
(Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images)

A Florida man is recovering after authorities say he was mauled by a rare Black Leopard. What is worse is that the man gave a large fee to have an encounter with the jungle cat.

WPLG, a Florida- based ABC News Outlet, reports 50-year-old Dwight Turner paid $150 for a “full-contact experience” with the leopard. He came under attack by the fully grown animal immediately after stepping into the enclosure, according to the report.

Local 10 News says a photo they obtained shows Turner’s head under heavy bandage wraps. Reports state the panther tore Turner’s right ear in half and his scalp was “hanging from his head.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials say the incident occurred on August 31 and Turner is still in the recovery process. FWC Detectives say Michael Poggi owned the cat and ran an animal sanctuary for “rare and endangered” animals.

Florida Authorities Charge Leopard Owner

Florida Law Enforcement Officials say Poggi faces charges for allowing contact with an extremely dangerous animal. He is also facing a citation for maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition.

Poggi allegedly allowed people to closely interact with the animal for a fee of over $100. The “full-contact experience” supposedly allows patrons to “play” with the Black Leopard, rub its belly, and take pictures with it.

According to the FWC investigative report, the cat began to maul Turner as soon as he went into the enclosure. Officials say he has severe injuries that require numerous surgeries. He reportedly spent a week in the hospital receiving treatment for his injuries.

Florida authorities say Poggi has a license to own the leopard. According to the WPLG report, he admits the act was illegal. Turner’s attorney tells the ABC affiliate the entire experience is illegal, nullifying any waiver his client may have signed.

Black leopards are considered rare and endangered. Therefore, they cannot have human interaction. They are also quite fierce and dangerous.

H/T: WPLG (ABC News)