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Florida man pays $150 for close encounter with a leopard, gets mauled

Published Nov 3rd, 2020 8:10PM EST
leopard attack
Image: Karlos Lomsky

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  • A man in Florida paid $150 for a full-contact encounter with a black leopard and was almost instantly mauled by the big cat, putting his life in danger.
  • The owner of the cat runs a wildlife sanctuary and is legally cleared to have the cat, but selling one-on-one visits with the animal is strictly off-limits.
  • The man will be charged with multiple crimes.

If you ever find yourself handing over $150 to the owner of a leopard for the promise of a “full-contact experience,” you should probably take a brief step back and just examine some of the decisions you’ve made in your life up to that point.

A Florida man found himself in that exact position recently and rather than taking a step back, he dove in head-first. Unfortunately, the predatory cat wasn’t willing to take visitors on that particular day and 50-year-old Dwight Turner found himself with severe lacerations that required “multiple surgeries,” according to a Local10 report.

According to local reporting, the incident took place at the home of Michael Poggi. Poggi claims to be the owner of “an animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals.” Now, whether or not he’s legally cleared to do that is somewhat beside the point, as it’s obviously very illegal to allow some random person to play around with your deadly pet and charge a fee in the process.

Poggi has, thus far, been charged with allowing his “customer” to have contact with the creature and was also slapped with a fine for keeping the jaguar in “an unsafe condition,” according to the report.

Poggi promised Turner the opportunity to “play with [the leopard], rub its belly, and take pictures.” What actually happened was a whole lot less charming. The leopard mauled turner to the point that he had to go under the knife multiple times to get stitched up and fixed up, and Local10 has pictures of Turner with bandages covering his head and clearly not very comfortable with the outcome of his $150 investment.

According to reports, Turner’s ear was severely damaged and only partially attached to his head, and his scalp was also at least partially removed from his head. Those are incredibly serious injuries, potentially even life-threatening, and certainly worth an investigation by police. Poggie does apparently have the authorization to have the leopard, but he also told authorities that what he did, by having a customer pay for a one-on-one with the animal, was indeed illegal.

Not that this should be a surprise, but the incident has resulted in a lawsuit against Poggi, and Turner’s lawyer is seeking an undisclosed sum due to the severe injuries his client sustained. When a big cat almost eats your ear and puts your head in its mouth, bad things happen. Let’s hope the cat doesn’t have to suffer any consequences as a result of its owner’s poor decision making.

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