Boynton Beach woman recalls 2002 tiger attack

Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 19:28:12-04

Carol Pistilli of Boynton Beach still lives with the effects of a tiger attack in 2002.

She said she was visiting former Tarzan actor Steve Sipek's Loxahatchee home when it happened.

"After all these years, we'll take a picture and my husband will tell me to smile. And I'm still saying 'I cant,'" she said.

Carol said she suffered nerve damage which is why she said she wasn't able to smile after the attack.

She also lost hearing in her right ear and sight out of her right eye.

"Most people that look at me, especially medical people, think that I had a stroke. I say, 'No, I never had a stroke. Are you ready?' and they say 'Yeah.' And I say, 'I had my skull fractured by a tiger' and then they determine they weren't ready," she said.

Carol said she was painting a fence at Sipek's home when she stepped into an enclosure where a tiger was being kept. But she said Sipek never told her the tiger was in the enclosure at the time.

She said she felt a tap on her shoulder while painting.

"My first thought was 'My husband's being cute.' Then my second thought was 'No, that's not his style.'"

The next thing she remembers was the tiger biting down on her head.

"I heard my skull fracture, and gave conscience thought to 'How do I get myself out of this situation?'"

Carol spent more than ten hours on an operating table and months in rehab following the incident.

But she never blamed the cat for what happened.

"He did what cats do. They stalk something and then they catch it," she said.

She said the news of a zookeeper's death from the Palm Beach Zoo doesn't bring up bad memories.

Carol said she's moved on from what happened to her in 2002.

"It happened and it's over and I'm used to the way I look."

The tiger that attacked her, Bobo, made headlines again two years after the attack.

Bobo escaped from Sipek's property and was shot and killed by authorities.