Sherwoods WildCat Haven has been fined more than $5,000 by state officials for safety and health violations connected with the November death of an animal keeper.
Oregons Occupational Safety and Health Division issued the fine March 10 as part of a citation against the organization. WildCat Haven has 30 days to appeal the fine.
According to Oregon OSHA, the Sherwood sanctuary violated its two-person safety procedure and cage latches did not fully secure dangerous cougars. The lapse resulted in the mauling death of 36-year-old Renee Radziwon Chapman, who was cleaning one of the sanctuary cages when one or more cougars attacked her on Nov. 9. Chapman was working alone at the facility.
Sadly, as is so often the case, this workplace tragedy may have been prevented if the employer had followed and enforced its own guidelines when employees entered the cougar enclosures, said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator.
Oregon OSHA cited WildCat Haven for two serious violations, each with a penalty of $2,800. The investigation found the sanctuary violated its two-person safety procedure by allowing keepers to work alone on a frequent basis. The second violation identified an inadequate latch design on the cougar cages. If the locks were not fully closed, they could inadvertently pop open. In order to fully secure the latch, keepers were required to enter the cage and attach a carabiner onto the latch's lock fitting. The enclosure itself was also poorly designed with no separate entry door, according to Oregon OSHA. As a result, cougars in two separate chambers needed to be secured in order to safely enter.