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Where Is Kelci Saffery Now? Meet The Tiger King Star Famous As The Mauled ZooKeeper

Published Thu Jun 16 2022 By Riley
Where Is Kelci Saffery Now? Meet The Tiger King Star Famous As The Mauled ZooKeeper

Kelci Saff Saffery is one of the former employees of Greater Wynwood Zoo and associates of Joe Exotic. 

He found fame as the mauled zookeeper in the hit Netflix crime drama documentary Tiger King.

His charm and unconditional love for big cats, which we witnessed on the show, made him famous among audiences.

Saffery lost his arm during one of the encounters with a tiger while working at the zoo. Yet his unbothered attitude toward the whole incident certainly grabbed everyone's attention.

As for his personal life, Kelci, born as a female, identifies as a man and uses he/his pronoun. He shares three children with his long-term female partner.

Who Is Kelci Saffery?

Kelci Saff Saffery, or Kelci Saffery, was born on August 1, 1986, in Hawaii and is 35-year-old as of May 2022.

He served in the US Army and deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, Saff lost both his parents during his enlistment.

Source: [email protected]
Young Kelci Saffery with his late mother celebrating his birthday 

He always had a passion for Big cats; even during his childhood, Kelci was fascinated by them. Eventually, Saff decided to work for them. After serving his nation, he served his heart.

Saffery joined Joe Exotic's Wynwood Zoo in Oklahoma and devoted almost a decade of his life-loving and selflessly caring for animals, especially tigers.

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Kelci Saffery’s Arm Incident: What Happened?

Saff began working at G.W. Zoo in January 2010 as a Park Manager. In October 2013, his arm was mauled by one of the tigers in the Zoo.

He was a bit careless while closing the tiger cage. Instead of using a stick, he used his arm and was viciously attacked.

Saffery was airlifted to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center. He was given a choice between two years of constructive operations/therapy or amputation. He chooses the latter.

Despite resting, he joined the work only 11 days after the accident and began serving his beloved tigers again.

Source: [email protected]
Kelci Saffery with his beloved wild Cat 

Saff's full story was shown in the Tiger King documentary, and audiences could stop but praise his calm attitude.

Saff blamed his carelessness for the incident and claimed that the Zoo's safety protocol was not to be blamed.

He releases an official statement following the indecent. It read:

'I Kelci Saffery release this statement to the press on October 5th. I broke protocol and stuck my hand in a cat cage instead of using the stick provided."

He continued:

"The cat let go and pushed my arm back through the cage. This tiger was not aggressive towards me. I hope for a healthy recovery so I can return to work every day with my tigers."

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Netflix Show Tiger King Used Kelci Saffery's Wrong Pronoun-Does He Identifies As Transgender?

Kelci Saffery, born a female, identifies as a man and uses he/his pronoun.

He, however, does not identify as transgender as he had not had any gender reassignment surgery.

Saffery appears in the Tiger King, where he is seen sharing his story. But throughout the series, he was referred to as "she" despite identifying as male.

The former park manager did not mind being called "she" in the show, but the audiences were enraged by Netflix's negligence.

Fans showed their anger and frustration on Twitter, and the Tiger King alum was quite overwhelmed by the reactions.

"Personally, it doesn't bother me … (but) these titles and these pronouns, they matter just as much as calling someone by the wrong name. It's something that you shouldn't dismiss," said the 35-year-old in an interview.

Saff further said his kids call him dad, and he does not remember a time when he was anything different than a man.

He also mentioned that his family /parents were always supportive.

"I can't remember a time when I knew (anything) different… I just think it was obvious, what I wanted, the way I wanted to live and my family immediately supported that".

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Kelci Saff Saffery's View On Tiger King And Former Boss Joe Exotic

Tiger King season one is the documentary based on the life of the infamous Joe Exotic.

It showed his journey as a zoo owner, his love/hate relationship with Tigers, his electing campaign to be the president of the United States, and his fight with fellow tiger owner Carole Baskin.

Saff was also the part of the show where he was seen sharing his side of Joe's story same as Kristin E Rosøy Kirkham's husband Rick Kirkham.

The animal lover stated that he was often asked to be on documentaries related to his boss in an interview.

He denied them as he thought everybody just wanted entertainment but not the truth. However, when Netflix approached him, Saff felt confident telling his story to the world.

The 36-year-old admitted that he did not watch the show even after the first month of its release.

He watched it after his sister told him about the show's success and its popularity.

Saff stated:

"I thoroughly enjoyed it as a viewer. I definitely enjoyed it. There were obviously some parts where it was hard because it brings out some big, hard, deep issues."

He continued:

"And then, of course, I experienced a lot throughout my time there at the park. I was there for almost 10 years and it was my entire life in those moments."

The former Greater Wynwood Zoo team member also said that his arm accident was hard to watch as he was concerned for his family's response.

"I think the hardest part for me was now my family has gone through that experience. The people that I know personally, my friends, family, and loved ones."

He continued:

"They know that it happened, but they didn't see it firsthand, and I think that was definitely a reality check for them."

Relationship With Joe Exotic

Saff had a love/hate relationship with his former boss Joe Exotic. He admitted he was a good boss and took care of his staff but definitely did not agree with his views on many things.

He was also seen expressing disappointment with the feud between Joe and Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist whose story plays a big role in Joe's life.

Saff mentioned that the money they invested in the infamous court case between the duo would have been used to better care for their respective zoo animals.

Where Is Kelci Saffery Now? Wife And Children

Saff left the zoo in 2018, just before Joe left. He mentioned that he was not feeling the same passion and love for his job anymore and decided to start fresh.

"I invested so much blood, sweat, and tears into that place, and for my own health and sanity, I needed to take a break."

He lived in Oklahoma for a year and then moved to California with his family, where he now works at a "clock in, clock out job."

As per sources, Saff is married; however, there is no official confirmation. As of now, he resides with his longtime partner or possible wife and three kids-all daughters.

Source: [email protected]
Kelci Saffery with his partner: The couple shares three children 

The Tiger King star seems to love being a dad. In one of his Instagram posts, Saff shared a photo of his daughters with a caption that read:

"Parenting is hard. Somebody is always fighting. Somebody is not paying attention. Nobody is listening. I'm never right. Parenting is hard. I really hope it lasts forever."

Source: [email protected]
Kelci Saffery's three daughters 

The family lives a very private life. Saff himself admitted that he does not like the limelight.

Even after the overnight fame, he stayed out of the media radar and made sure his kids and family stayed away from them as well.

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