A 32-year-old woman was mauled to death by a captive tiger at an exotic animal farm in British Columbia while at least three children watched in horror.
The woman, Tanya Dumstrey-Soos, even spoke with her fiance, Kim Carlton, the owner of the farm, by cellphone as she lay dying after the attack, her employer said in an interview on Friday.
"Before she passed away Kim did say that he did have a chance to talk to Tanya," said Scott Nelson, who employed Dumstrey-Soos as a receptionist and saleswoman at the 100 Mile House Advisor newspaper.
"He said the two were able to say they loved each other and he was obviously horrified," Nelson said.
Nelson, who is also the mayor of Williams Lake, British Columbia, said that Dumstrey-Soos and Carlton had recently become engaged to be married.
The woman was found outside the cage when emergency services arrived at the farm on Thursday evening, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Corporal Scott Ksionzyk said.
"There is no indication that at any point the tiger was outside of the cage, nor is there any indication that the victim entered the cage," Ksionzyk said.
Nelson said that Carlton had described a bizarre, freak accident involving a tiger named Gangus.
Carlton "didn't think the tiger had bit her. It's that she had a dress on and she was standing there and he was playing with the dress and grabbed her legs," Nelson said.
"She was standing outside the cage and talking to Gangus, the cat swatted at the legs," he said.
He said Gangus was the only one of the three tigers on the farm that had not been declawed.
A number of youngsters, including one of Dumstrey-Soos' children, witnessed the attack, said Constable Annie Linteau of the RCMP.
Nelson believed that Carlton's children, Dakota, aged 12, and Kodiak, aged 15, also saw her being mauled.
"We were obviously horrified, more horrified that the young kids saw it, that they were there and obviously our hearts are with them," Nelson said.
Regional coroner Bruce Chamberlayne said Dumstrey-Soos was taken to a hospital in the town of 100 Mile House after the attack but could not be revived.
The farm in the interior of British Columbia is called Siberian Magic. Carlton puts on exotic and magic shows and also sells services such as photos with the big cats.
The RCMP said all the animals remained secured on the premises, about 40km east of 100 Mile House. Among the animals at the farm are three tigers, a lion and a lemur.
After the incident, British Columbia Agricultural Minister Barry Penner said authorities would determine whether there is a need to change regulations that allow private citizens to keep exotic animals.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has called for legislation which would ban the practice.
Siberian Magic's Web site invites people to visit the Bridge Lake, British Columbia, facility to experience "the wonderful worlds of magic and exotic animals."
The farm is about 400km north east of Vancouver.
"Visit our animals up close and personal. Capture the memories and have your photo taken with our amazing Siberian tiger, Kisa, or our African lion, Sarmoti, as well as many other wonderful animals," it says.
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