Tiger bites woman in Omaha, Internet erupts with concern ... for tiger

Police say woman who seemed intoxicated broke into an Omaha zoo to pet a tiger believed to be Mai, a Malayan tiger with an amputated limb.

A woman was hospitalized on Sunday for severe injuries to her left hand after she snuck into Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb., before it opened and reached her hand into a cage to pet a tiger.

Jacqueline Eide was taken to Creighton University Medical Center by a friend, reports local TV station, KETV.

In a police report filed from the hospital, officials said, “Eide was aggressive toward staff and showed signs of intoxication of alcohol and/or drugs.” Though the incident is under investigation, said police, Ms. Eide was cited Sunday for criminal trespass.

According to media reports, zoo officials believe that the tiger that bit Eide is 18-year-old Mai, a Malayan tiger who came to the Omaha zoo in 2003 after her rehabilitation from a limb amputation that saved her life. As a cub, Mai was found in Malaysia with her front left leg entangled in a poacher’s trap, according to the zoo’s website.

Zoo officials said online that Mai is graceful and personable.

She’s very friendly, which is odd because she came from the wild,” Mike Verbrigghe, lead keeper of cats at the zoo said in June blog post on the Omaha Zoo Foundation website.

KETV report that Eide has a criminal history, including convictions of drunk driving, graffiti, disturbing the peace, obstruction of justice, and shoplifting. She was arrested twice in Omaha this year and was sentenced to prison time for her third DUI in 2011.

In response to the news Sunday, the public took to Facebook to express concern for the tiger.

Erin Pauley wrote on the Zoo’s Facebook page, “I hope nothing happens to poor Mai or the zoo based on the irresponsible decisions of two drunken individuals. In my opinion, it serves the girl right that she was bitten. A tiger is still a wild animal, after all!”

Zoo officials have assured the public that Mai will not be punished for the bite, writing on Facebook, “Mai will remain on display as normal and go about life as usual. No action will be taken against her.”

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