There are a lot of folks worldwide who own “exotic” wild animals as pets. While many are opposed to this practice, the vast majority of owners take good care of the animals and are trained to handle them. However, 54-year-old Michael Poggi landed in hot water recently after accepting a payment of $150 from Dwight Turner, age 50, promising in return that the man receives a “Full-Contact Experience” with his pet black leopard. However, Turner was soon mauled by the animal and has now undergone two surgeries since the attack on August 31, according to his wife Natushka Turner in a sworn written statement given to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
According to a captive wildfire report, Poggi had arranged for Turner to play with it, rub its belly and take pictures” on his sprawling property in Davie, Florida. After unlocking the leopard’s cage, Turner entered and sat down on a bench inside. That’s when the leopard reportedly “growled and attacked Mr. Turner biting him on the head and ear,” said the FWC report.
Police arrested Poggi, who received two misdemeanor citations after allowing full contact with a hazardous wild animal and keeping captive wildlife in unsafe conditions, according to FWC.
In the meantime, CNN reached out to Poggi on several occasions without success. It’s unclear whether or not the exotic animal owner has hired an attorney to represent him.
His remote hearing has been scheduled for December 2, according to court documents from Broward County.
Poggi allegedly admitted to FWC investigators that he knew perfectly well what he was doing was illegal and answered all their questions. However, he would not give them a written statement according to the FTC report.
On a Facebook page titled “Poggi’s Animal House,” Poggi describes himself as “an Exotic Animal Breeder of rare or endangered species and has rescued thousands of exotic animals over the past 35 years.” His page, which once claimed he was operating an “animal sanctuary,” has since been deactivated.
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