A woman working for a wild cat sanctuary last year was mauled to death. Reports say she sent a text to her boss, pleading not to be left alone with the animals, only a day before one killed her. Her estate is now suing.
Renee Radziwon-Chapman, 36, was an animal keeper working at Wildcat Haven for eight years. She allegedly sent a text message to the co-owner the day before she died because she was concerned about being alone with the animals.
Cheryl Tuller, co-owner of WildCat Haven with her husband Michael, texted the employee back telling her that she would not be left alone. Sanctuary protocol prohibited employees from entering the enclosures alone.
The Tullers and the other employee who usually worked with Radziwon-Chapman, however, were not there the day before or the day of her death. They were in another county, working on a property where they planned to move the sanctuary.
Radziwon-Chapman went into the enclosure alone, presumably to clean it, and was mauled to death by a cougar. Even though the sanctuary had protocol that required two qualified employees to enter enclosures together, the lawsuit alleges that the Tullers instructed Radziwon-Chapman to work in cages alone. The lawsuit also claims that there was a broken latch on the wildcat gate.
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division found WildCat Haven in violation of protocol and found the enclosure was not designed properly. The gate latch was meant for back yards, not securing dangerous animals.
The sanctuary settled for $5,600 in penalties with OSHA, and the lawsuit with Radziwon-Chapman’s estate is now pending.
Photo: Colorado News Day