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Wolf Crossings

A Rural Viewpoint On Wolf Reintroduction And Protection

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Updated 10-06



Wolf attack at Out of Africa
Animal handler severely injured

Staff Reporter



An animal handler was severely mauled by wolves on March 17 at Camp Verde's new wildlife park.

Camp Verde Fire District and Camp Verde Marshals Office responded to Out of Africa Wildlife Park to a report of a wolf attack at 12:01 p.m.

Chief Phil Harbeson said firefighters and paramedics responded to discover a female animal handler had suffered severe lacerations to both arms and one of her legs.

Harbeson said, "It appears a female handler in her 30s was in a compound in close proximity to a pair of wolves when one attacked her," he said. "It looks like one started, and then the other one joined in and they chewed her up pretty bad."

Nadia Caillou, public relations and marketing director for Out of Africa Wildlife Park, said the victim, Heather Mueller, 34, has been a professional animal handler for many years and is highly qualified.

"Heather has been with us for a long time and we have had these wolves for about seven years now," she said. "Her condition is stable but we are not sure of the extent of her injuries."

She added that the wolves have never shown signs of aggression, and park officials are unsure of what initiated the attack.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park, located at 4020 N. Cherry Road in Camp Verde, has not yet opened to the pubic and was scheduled to have a soft opening in April.

Park officials report that the wolves have been placed in quarantine and the victim is undergoing tests before surgery.

Harbeson said that Mueller was airlifted to John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix, but her condition is uncertain.

"Her left arm was really badly injured," Harbeson said. "If she keeps it, I'll be surprised."