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Drunken woman bitten by tiger during off-hours visit to Omaha zoo

Omaha police say that a 33-year old woman sneaked into the zoo and was bitten when she reached into the tiger exhibit.

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A woman in Omaha was bitten Sunday by a Malayan tiger, like this one at the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur in 2011.

REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

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Omaha police say a tiger bit an apparently intoxicated woman who broke into a Nebraska zoo to pet a big cat.

Officer James Shade says the 33-year-old woman suffered a severe hand injury in the incident at the Omaha Zoo early Sunday.

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Shade say officers were called to the Creighton University Medical Center around 7:20 a.m. after the injured woman showed up. He says she was acting aggressively and appeared to be intoxicated.

Police determined that she had sneaked into the zoo and was bitten when she reached into the tiger exhibit.

The zoo said in a statement that it was likely an 18-year-old Malayan tiger called Mai bit the woman, and asserted that safety and security are priorities at the facility.

The woman has been cited for criminal trespass.

In the fall of 2012, Michael J. Watkins broke into the Idaho zoo. after a bout of drinking, and tried to steal a monkey. He failed and beat the monkey to death. He was convicted of grand theft larceny and animal cruelty and sentenced to 7 years in prison, reported The Associated Press. The judge also recommended substance abuse and grief treatment. 

Prosecutors say Watkins, fueled by a night of excessive drinking at downtown bars with a friend, broke into the zoo with a plan to capture one of the monkeys. Once inside, he manipulated a lock to get into the primate enclosure and removed the Patas monkey by wrapping it in his jacket and tried throwing it over a fence, according to court records.

But the monkey resisted, tried running away and a chase through a small section of the zoo ensued. Ultimately, Watkins lost control of the situation and resorted to violence, kicking the monkey and clubbing it multiple times in the head and upper body and leaving it to die from those injuries, Ada County Deputy Attorney Shawna Dunn said.