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Warning: Lions might bite; but at least you can sue

Let’s pretend for a minute that you would feel comfortable wrapping your fingers around the bars of cage where a 364-pound lion lives. I tried to pretend too, but I couldn’t convince myself that I would be safe.

Just like I can’t be convinced that Amanda Bourassa, a former Busch Garden’s zookeeper, deserves more than $15,000 because her right arm was severed when she put her fingers in a lion’s cage last year.

Bourassa’s suit claims that the amusement park’s policy to feed animals by hands is not widely practiced, endangers employees and “contributed to the attack,” according to a St. Petersburg Times report.

Busch Gardens is quite clear about its policy that forbids putting any appendage inside the bars. Therefore, even when employees are feeding lions by hand, they should not be sticking their hand or fingers in the cage.

Bourassa was responsible to reward the lion on occasion with bits of meat through the one and a half inch bar spacing on the cage. The space sounds small, but, as this wasn’t a 12 oz. T-bone steak, it should have easily fit through the bars. If the meat was cut into pieces, it could be tossed into the cage.

But according to a Times’ article last May, after the incident occurred, Bourassa wasn’t feeding Max the lion when the attack occurred. She had already fed the lion bits of meat. Then, to steady herself, she grabbed the bar while getting out of a chair.

Maybe someone should have told Bourassa, 22, before she started working with animals, that a near 400-pound African cat would not just lick your hand the way a cute kitten would if your hand smelled like a tasty meal.

And surely, Bourassa must have been taught that when she attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga., while she was training to be a veterinarian.

After all, Tifton is the “agricultural capital of the world” (along with being the “reading capital of the world”) according to the dozens of billboards just before you hit the small town, located 180 miles south of Atlanta.

Then again, some things can’t be taught, namely common sense, and to blame someone else for the consequences you suffer from your own decisions, actions, or stupidity is wrong.

However, attorney John McLaughlin says Bourassa never put her fingers in the cage after handling meat. McLaughlin said Bourassa’s father has pictures proving this.

I’m sure there are plenty of pictures from the event, and I say “event” since it was an “approved behind-the-scenes tour” for her parents, her boyfriend and boyfriend’s parents.

This case reminds me of the 81-year old woman who spilled a cup of hot coffee she had placed between her legs resulting in burn injuries. She won $480,000 in a lawsuit against McDonald’s because said she suffered first-degree burns from the coffee that was too hot.

First of all, who told the lady to put a cup of coffee between her legs? Secondly, doesn’t she know coffee is supposed to be hot?

Still, laughable lawsuits like these continue. McLaughlin says Bourassa still needs regular sessions with both a psychiatrist and a psychologist. Also, he said, his client suffers flashbacks of the attack whenever she removes her prosthetic arm.

I don’t doubt in any way that this was a traumatic experience. But money will not make the flashbacks stop. Money cannot go back in time and prevent this incident from happening. Yet, Bourassa will, more than likely, receive a nice sum of cash for an incident that she could have avoided. I guess for some, ignorance can be bliss.

Grace Agostin is a senior and an Oracle Associate Editor.