EAST TAWAS, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – State police are investigating a woman’s report that a lion bit off part of her finger at a small private zoo in mid-Michigan.

Renae Ferguson said the big cat “ripped” the tip of her middle finger as she tried to pet it last Saturday at Sunrise Side Exotics and Nature Trail in East Tawas, about 130 miles north of Detroit.

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“I was totally in shock. I really didn’t believe that was part of my finger laying on the ground,” Ferguson told WNEM-TV.

Ferguson and her daughter Tina Dobson say they were visiting the zoo and an employee allowed them to go into the lion’s cage.

“I put my hand down there to pet it and it ripped my finger,” Ferguson said.

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The zoo’s owners told WNEM in an email that “the lady went into the security area and was told by the guide to get back… the lady stated she wanted to touch the lion and continued, against the guide’s warning, to put her finger inside the fence and the lion nipped the end of her finger.”

Several authorities are investigating the incident, including the United States Department of Agriculture.

Ferguson said she is planning legal action against the zoo, which has denied responsibility for the incident.

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