ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The owner of a wildlife sanctuary was injured by a 350-pound Siberian tiger (search) that was startled by a 14-year-old boy at a county fair, officials said Sunday.
Curt LoGiudice jumped between the tiger and the boy, who was knocked to the ground with LoGiudice.
St. Johns County Sheriff's deputies had to shoot the animal twice with stun guns to get it to release LoGiudice, who kept his grip on the tiger's leash and was able to calm it down and take it back to his sanctuary before driving himself to a hospital.
LoGiudice, owner of the Catty Shack Ranch at Jacksonville, had been displaying his animals at the St. Johns County Fair (search) and was walking the tiger back to his truck late Saturday.
The boy walked up and "made a sudden move," and the tiger knocked both LoGiudice and the boy to the ground and bit and clawed at them, according to a report by Deputy Jerry Montague.
The teen, Grant Bradley, told The Florida Times-Union he made eye contact with the big cat.
"It jumped on my back and attacked me and was on me for five or six seconds," Bradley said. "I was really scared. I had no idea what to do, so I covered up my head with my arms and I laid there."
The tiger knocked LoGiudice and the boy to the ground and was biting and clawing at them, according to Montague's report.
"The tiger was able to get on top of the handler and had the man's head in its mouth," Deputy Greg Suchy told the Times-Union.
Montague shot the tiger with his Taser stun gun (search), according to the report. "The tiger was out of control and I was afraid that one of the people were going to be killed," he wrote.
The tiger broke the stun gun's contact wires and attacked LoGiudice again, so a second deputy fired his stun gun.
LoGiudice suffered a puncture wound on one eye lid and behind one ear, according to the police report. He drove his animals back to Jacksonville and secured them before going to a hospital, Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said.
The parents of the boy said he had "a bump and a scratch," said Joy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Ocala.
Investigators are trying to determine how Bradley was able to get so close to the animal.
Hill said the agency's investigators had not yet determined what the boy did to startle the tiger or how he was able to get so close to the animal.
Mulligan said he did not know how many animals from the ranch were at the fair.
There was no immediate response Sunday to repeated calls to LoGiudice's animal sanctuary.
No charges had been filed.