A New Zealand aid worker has told of watching a tiger bite his wife in the leg and then attempt to drag her away.
The incident happened at a tiger enclosure in Thailand that allows people to pat tigers that have been domesticated and trained.
Stuart Corlett and his wife Ruth were at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre with their three children on Sunday when a female tiger called Pancake suddenly clamped down on Mrs Corlett's leg, just missing her femoral artery.
She had crouched beside the tiger, posing for a photograph, when the trainer told her to stand up.
"The tiger jumped up and bit her in the leg. It narrowly missed her femoral artery - the bite was two inches away. If it had severed that artery she would have had minutes to live," Mr Corlett said.
She is recovering at home from the ordeal. The family have lived in Thailand for nine years and work for a relief agency that helps refugees on Thailand's border.
Mr Corlett said reports that his wife had touched the tiger on the top of its head and that her sleeve caught the tiger's eye were wrong.
"The trainer hit the tiger on the head with a stick just before the bite."
He added that photographs showed his wife wasn't even wearing a long-sleeved shirt so that couldn't have caught the tiger's eye.
A friend of the couple, Auckland teacher Daniel Charman, tried to pull the tigers jaws open but couldn't and the tiger attempted to drag Mrs Corlett away.
"He grabbed hold of [Mr Charman's] leg so it couldn't drag her away. The trainer whacked it on the nose then turned and left. They [staff] said he was going to warn others but in my opinion he was fearful for his own safety."
The tiger let go of Mrs Corlett's leg and she was left bleeding on the ground.
"Daniel picked her up and threw her over his shoulder and they got out of the enclosure."
Mr Corlett said staff at the centre were ill-equipped to deal with a medical emergency.
There was no first aid kit and they were told the only medical officer was on a day off.
She was eventually taken to hospital in the back of a staff member's Toyota Corolla suffering from shock and barely conscious. Her wound required 54 stitches.
Mr Corlett told the Herald last night he was told by a tour guide the tigers were probably sedated.
"My opinion is the tiger was coming out of a sedated state and was confused and probably grumpy."
The couple have spoken to their lawyer and hope to settle out of court. They want Mrs Corlett's medical expenses paid but would only settle if the tiger centre sets up a safety committee and has a clear policy manual.