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Lake Superior Zoo trainer recovering after tiger bite

The Lake Superior Zoo trainer who was bitten by a tiger on Monday night has non-life-threatening injuries.

Zoo trainer Jennifer Eickoff was behind a chain-link fence using venison as a positive reinforcement for Ussuri, a 400-pound Amur tiger, when a piece of venison got stuck on the chain-link barrier. Eickoff tried to flick the meat into the tiger’s area when her fingertip met the meat and the tiger’s mouth at the same time. Eickoff was sent to St. Luke’s for her mangled finger.

Lake Superior Zoo officials said this was a simple accident.

“This has never happened before,” said Peter Pruett, director of zoo operations. “We are going to talk about the policy and safety measures when Eickoff gets back.”

The animal care team has no reason to believe that the accident was a result of aggressive behavior. Ussuri will continue to be on display. Zookeepers said Ussuri loves the winter and this is a perfect time to visit him.

The Lake Superior Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The zoo was closed Tuesday night but will reopen today if weather permits.

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