Parent of Teen Killed by Tiger Files Lawsuit

A 17-year-old girl was killed when attacked while posing for senior photos at a Kansas animal sanctuary.

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The father of a teenager killed by a tiger while posing for senior class pictures has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of an animal sanctuary where the death occurred.

Seventeen-year-old Haley Hilderbrand, a student at Labette County High School, was posing with a Siberian tiger at the Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary near Mound Valley, Kan. on Aug. 18, 2005 when the 7-year-old tiger, who was being held by the sanctuary's owner, Doug Billingsly, turned and bit Hilderbrand.

The tiger was eventually shot and killed by Billingsly and a sheriff's deputy.

Randy Hilderbrand of Coffeyville, Kan. is seeking more than $75,000 for medical and funeral expenses for his daughter and mental anguish. The girls mother and stepfather are not involved in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Hilderbrand  wanted to have her picture taken with tiger cubs but Billingsly decided to use a 550-pound tiger instead. Also, according to the lawsuit, Billingsly used only a nylon leash to restrain the animal, and that after Hilderbrand  was attacked, emergency personnel had to wait for the tiger to be restrained before they could help because no stun guns or firearms were available.

Billingsly and his father, Keith, opened Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary in 1994. It housed bears, lions, leopards and several species of tiger. No problems with the exotic cats had been reported before the August 2005 incident.

Posted: May 10, 2006, 5:00 a.m. EST

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Parent of Teen Killed by Tiger Files Lawsuit

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Jim    Ontario, CA

4/21/2010 2:13:53 AM

Agreed, wild animals should not be posed with like they are some sort of stuffed animal... however, as tragic as this is... the girl also shares culpability here. Any of you want to take the chance she took? I don't, and I am an ex marine and have been in some very dangerous places. If given a choice between being in a firefight with some taliban or sitting with a wild, somewhat tame 550 lb killing machine, who react to a human's fear... I'll take the firefight. I would bet everything I've ever owned... that this girl took the chance she did willingly. No one at all dragged her against her will and sat her next to that Tiger. Should the owner get sued? Perhaps, but I am so bummed out that the generations alive today, no longer understand that personal responsibility has equal if not more culpability than an owner's who offers people an opportunity to be photographed with a killer. I can grieve for those loved ones who suffer the loss of their beloved... but I don't agree that the person offering her to get her picture with that beautiful animal is anymore than she responsible for the tragedy that not only happened there... but is all too common in a variety of other settings.

debby    oxord, NC

10/23/2007 1:13:51 AM

when are people going to learn you don't mess with wild animals!!!! leave them in the jungle unless they are going to be treated for wounds and let them go.

Teresa    Ponca City, OK

11/9/2006 7:08:39 PM

Wild animals are not pets.Some one needs to be sued.I hope they win.My heart goes out to the family.

SHERRILYN    NEW HAVEN, CT

10/10/2006 4:06:52 AM

MY GRIEF GOES OUT TO HER FAMILY. FIRST OF ALL TIGERS ARE VERY DANGEROUS. YOU NEVER LET YOU CHILD GO ANYWHERE NEAR A INDANGERED SPECIES. HER FATHER HAS THE RIGHT TO SUE BECAUSE THE ZOO KEEPER OKAYED THEM TO POSE WITH THE TIGER. I FEEL THE SANTUARY OWNER SHOULD OF HAD MORE PROTECTION AND EQUIPMENT AROUND THAT ANIMAL EXPECIALLY WHEN A CHILD WAS INVOLVED.

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