A Florida man was scalped by a black panther after he paid $150 for an illegal 'full contact' experience at a backyard animal sanctuary

Sophia Ankel
·2 min read
black leopard
Michael Poggi with a black leopard in his backyard enclosure in Davie, Florida in a YouTube video posted o April 25, 2013. It is unclear whether this is the animal involved in the attack. Michael Poggi/YouTube
  • A Florida man was mauled by a black panther - a leopard with excessive black pigments - during a $150 "full-contact experience" at a backyard enclosure near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to local media.

  • Dwight Turner's injuries from the attack, which happened on August 31, were so bad that his scalp was "hanging from his head and his right ear was torn in half," his attorneys have said.

  • The leopard was owned by Florida local Michael Poggi who, according to his social media pages, runs an animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals in his backyard.

  • Poggi has admitted that he was illegally charging people for contact experiences with the leopard. He was also charged with allowing full contact with a dangerous animal.

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A man requires multiple surgeries after a black panther mauled him during an illegal "full-contact experience" at a backyard enclosure near Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Pictures obtained by the local news station Local 10 News show the man, Dwight Turner, with a heavily bandaged head and ear after the attack, which officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say happened on August 31.

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Turner paid $150 to play with, take pictures, and rub the belly of a black panther - a leopard with excessive black pigments - which belonged to Florida local Michael Poggi. His Facebook page and YouTube channel says he runs an animal sanctuary for rare and endangered animals.

Upon entering the enclosure behind Poggi's home, Turner was attacked by the large cat, leaving him with gruesome injuries.

According to an audit report released on Thursday, Turner's scalp was "hanging from his head and his right ear was torn in half," Local 10 reported.

The 50-year-old had to spend a week in the emergency room due to the injuries he suffered, his attorneys said.

Poggi has since admitted to police that he was illegally charging people for contact experiences with the leopard, authorities said. He has been charged with allowing full contact with an extremely dangerous animal.

The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida has criticized Poggi for having the leopard in captivity in his home.

Campaigns coordinator Nick Atwood told LADBible: "It is far too common for small zoos and quasi-sanctuaries in Florida to sell photo ops, play sessions, or other 'interactions' with exotic animals. Both people and animals are put in harm's way when the public comes into direct contact with captive wild animals."

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