OMG you guys it is so sad...I live in southeast Kansas (woohoo), and a girl named Miranda Hilderbrand was doing her senior photo shoot in a town nearby on Thursday. She wanted to have her picture taken with a white tiger that is apart of an exotic animal exhibit. Well, the tiger turned on her during the shoot and she was killed. He mauled her to death.
It is so sad! This is the article about it in our town's newspaper.
Tiger kills LC senior
Hilderbrand had spent time with cats at Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary
By Colleen Surridge
ALTAMONT - The first day of school was solemn for many Labette County High School students today after the death Thursday of their classmate, Haley Hilderbrand, who was attacked by a Siberian tiger during a senior picture photo shoot.
The Greenbush Crisis Center team was on hand for students today.
Hilderbrand of Altamont was posing with the 7-year-old tiger at the Lost Creek Animal Sanctuary in Mound Valley Thursday morning. The large cat was being restrained by its handler, Doug Billingsly, when it attacked, the Labette County Sheriff's Department reported.
Billingsly and responding deputies killed the tiger. Deputies and emergency medical service personnel began treating Hilderbrand, who had been severely bitten, but they were unable to revive her.
Billingsly, with anguish riddling his face and tears falling, said he would "have no comment" as he walked from his back yard, where the attack occurred, into his home, where EMS personnel continued to monitor him for two hours.
Hilderbrand was just one of many students to have her senior picture taken with the tigers. The walls of the guidance office at LCHS are testament to the many students who, since the sanctuary opened in 1994, have chosen to pose with the cats.
Gail Welden of G.W. Photography was there to take the picture Thursday. Although she said she could not comment on specifics before she was interviewed by the sheriff's department, she did say she has taken pictures of seniors at the sanctuary before and she has never felt uncomfortable doing so.
"Haley had always wanted to have her picture taken with the tigers," said LCHS English teacher Catherine Dean, who was close to Hilderbrand. "She went out there a lot."
Dean could hardly register the loss of one of her students, and a young lady who even baby-sat her son.
"She was on my yearbook staff and she was a good student," Dean said. "She had a really good personality and she was a real joy to have in class. She kind of had this zeal for life and she wanted to live it to the fullest.
"This is a horrible thing. Any time someone this young dies, it's horrible. I feel numb."
Billingsly and his family opened the 80-acre sanctuary as a state-licensed rescue facility for exotic animals. Lost Creek is home to bears, lions, Bengal and Siberian tigers, leopards, white tigers and even a liger, a rare cross between a lion and a tiger.
The sanctuary is also affiliated Animal Entertainment Productions, which trains animals for stage performances, movies, television shows and magic shows around the world.
In the history of the facility, no problems have ever been reported with the animals exhibiting aggressive behavior, and Billingsly has always instilled in those near the animals a healthy respect for the fact they are wild, no matter how beautiful and cuddly they look. It was not stated in the sheriff's report what led to the tiger attack.
Dean Fouts, Billingsly's closest neighbor, was shocked to hear the news and said he has never had any problem with living near the exotic animals.
"Ignorance is the biggest fear we have," Fouts said. "As soon as they started moving in the animals I started going down there and seeing what was going on. Then I started going on a regular basis. Both my daughters have had their senior pictures taken with the cats.
"(Billingsly) has put a lot of time and work into it and I'd hate to see him lose his business.
"It's just too bad what's happened," Fouts said, tears welling in his eyes over the death of Hilderbrand.
Neighbor Jerry Helms said he had seen such incidents on television, but never expected it to happen at Billingsly's.
"I'm shocked," Helms said. "It's terrible."
Another neighbor, Barbara Moon, said the Billingslys have always been very careful with the handling the animals and she has never been afraid.
"I have had some concerns about if they ever got loose. I have thought about what I would do if one ever got loose. My grandkids go back to the pond to feed the ducks," Moon said. "We have been over there though to visit. He said they were wild animals and to never trust them or turn your back on them. They are always on alert and I have never heard of any incidents."
For Hilderbrand's friends, trying to understand the loss of someone who touched their lives in a special way is difficult.
"Haley was always ready and willing for anything. She was the most energetic person I have ever met," Jeanna Spencer said. "The thing I remember her for the most is her smile. ... Her smile was so different than anyone else's. She just had something about her that could change your day in a minute. ... Even though Haley wasn't my best friend, she sure made an impact on my life."