A Florida man really wanted some excitement in his life. With nowhere else to turn, he desperately handed someone $150 for a “once-in-a-lifetime chance” to get close to a black leopard. Although the man was promised that the leopard would be harmless, he failed to remember what he learned in elementary school when his teacher taught him that leopards – like all big cats – are dangerous, violent animals.
Dwight Turner was seeking a “full-contact experience” with the wild animal. Although he paid Michael Poggi, who runs a wildlife sanctuary akin out of his Florida backyard, to play with the leopard and was promised a safe experience, the animal attacked Turner and ripped off his scalp in the process.
Poggi claims that his animal sanctuary, which is trying to progress off the hype of the “sanctuaries” shown in Netflix’s popular documentary Tiger King, features “rare, endangered animals.” Because he’s hungry for cash, Poggi allows people to get very close to these rare animals and even play with them if the price is right.
Turner handed over the $150 payment to Poggi’s crew so he could get the chance to play with the deadly animal. Detectives from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say the attack occurred in Poggi’s backyard while Turner was visiting his “sanctuary.”
The leopard allegedly attacked Turner the moment he entered the animal’s tiny enclosure. He was clearly infringing upon the animal’s territory but was blissfully unaware of his misguided actions until the big cat attacked and tore off his hair.
Poggi lied to Turner before receiving the payment. The Florida animal owner told Turner that for the right price, he’d be able to pet the wild leopard’s belly like it were a dog. He even said that Turner was welcomed to take pictures with the animal.
Instead of a soft, cuddly experience, the leopard showed its violent side, which is exactly what most people would suspect would happen. While Turner entered the enclosure, expecting playtime with the black leopard, he rushed out of it out of fear of his life and was left with debilitating injuries. After the leopard attack, Turner’s scalp was torn off his head and was hanging by a thread. He also lost his right ear in the animal attack.
Since the attack occurred in Poggi’s “sanctuary,” he has gone dark on social media. The Florida businessman has turned his business page “private” to block people from viewing his information as the investigation into his wrongdoing gets underway.
Records show that Poggi charged Turner, 50, $150 so he could get in the cage with the fully-grown apex predator and “play with it, rub its belly and take pictures.”
Detectives reported that Turner was in such poor condition after the attack his scalp was left “hanging from his head, and his right ear was torn in half.”
Poggi has gone into hiding since the attack on his Davie, Florida property. However, he has admitted that what he did was entirely illegal and wrong.
Turner spent a week in the emergency room at the height of the coronavirus pandemic to deal with his injuries.
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