Published December 08, 2006
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – A 4-year-old girl was mauled at a children's birthday party by a cougar that had been brought in by a wild-animal business to entertain the youngsters, authorities said.
The girl was attacked on Nov. 18 at the home of Goya Foods president Francisco Unanue during a party for his 7-year-old child and suffered severe cuts on her eyelid, cheek and ear, authorities said. Doctors sewed back part of her severed ear.
Police said Wild Animal World owner and trainer Corinne Oltz removed the leashed cougar from its cage to show it to the children, but the girl sneaked behind Oltz and startled the animal. The declawed cat seized the child's head with its teeth.
The 62-pound cougar was destroyed last week so that it could be tested for rabies; it did not have rabies.
State wildlife officials said Friday they were considering charges against Wild Animal World, a company that provides wild animals for parties.
Wild Animal World, which has run afoul the law in some previous attacks, did not immediately return a call for comment.
The attack was videotaped by a man hired to film the party, authorities said.
Wild Animal World's Web site says it offers a "wide variety of educational, exciting and professional interaction with exotic animals." A one-hour birthday show costs $270. The company's animals include Charlie the ringtail lemur, Popeye the anteater and Cookie the Guyanese porcupine.
Oltz was cited for a wildlife cage violation in a similar attack in 1999, court records showed. In 2001, a Wild Animal World leopard attacked a child at a company picnic. Oltz received probation for wildlife-possession violations, records showed.
Unanue's lawyer did not immediately return a call Friday.