NZ aid worker mauled in Thai tiger enclosure
4:00AM Tuesday Jan 27, 2009
By Vaimoana Tapaleao
A New Zealand woman is in hospital after being mauled by a tiger in Thailand.
Ruth Corlett, 45, was at an enclosure on Sunday with her family when the female tiger jumped at her and bit her leg.
Mrs Corlett was rushed to hospital, where she received 54 stitches on the wound.
Thai media reported that Mrs Corlett touched the year-old tiger's head before it jumped at her in the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre.
Mrs Corlett travelled to Thailand with her husband and three children in 2007 to work with an organisation that runs orphanages, emergency relief and development programmes on the Thai border.
Her husband, Stuart Corlett, said last night that his wife was still in hospital and was doing "okay".
"It was just at one of those tiger places where people are allowed to play with the tigers," he said. "She was near one of them and the thing just jumped up and bit her in the leg. But she's okay now."
The owners of the tiger enclosure have offered to pay for all of Mrs Corlett's medical expenses.
A staff member at the enclosure said the tiger that attacked Mrs Corlett - named Pancake - was usually very friendly and had been trained to stay with humans.
"Pancake has never bitten anyone before, despite being played with by tourists very often," the staff member said.
"The [New Zealand] woman touched the tiger on its head and suddenly the sleeve of her arm, or the cloth of her shirt, got into the eye of the tiger and the tiger got irritated."
Local Thai media reported that Mr Corlett is looking to sue the Chiang Mai tiger enclosure, but the Herald could not confirm this last night.
Staff at the centre have said that the case has not been filed with police.