Life

Tiger King’s trans employee Saff appears in bizarre ad for personal injury law firm

Saff from the Netflix series
Saff from the Netflix series "Tiger King"Photo: Publicity photo

A transgender man who appeared on the Netflix documentary Tiger King and who was mauled by a tiger while working at a roadside zoo in Oklahoma has appeared in a bizarre ad for a personal injury law firm.

While Saff’s story doesn’t include a successful personal injury lawsuit, he’s starring in an ad for Georgia law firm Bader Scott where he tells the story of his on-the-job injury that cost him part of his arm and humblebrags that he went immediately back to work “without compensation.”

Related: Tiger King’s “Joe Exotic” files $94M lawsuit alleging anti-gay discrimination

Saff lost his arm while working for the gay and often outrageous Joe Exotic, but he decided not to sue his employer. In fact, Saff refused to go through years of surgeries and reeducation to get his hand back, instead, asking doctors to amputate his arm so he could go back to work quickly.

He explained how he was attacked by a tiger, taken to a hospital, and found that he could still use his arm to a limited degree. He could write his name and pick up small objects.

“I had high hopes,” Saff said.

But then a doctor told him that he would have to undergo “years of reconstructive surgery” and “a lot of work to make that hand functioning” without any assurance that he would ever regain full use of his hand.

So he decided to tell the doctor to amputate his arm.

“I had to relearn to live with just one hand, compared to the two I was used to for almost 30 years,” Saff explained. “It was rough for me for a little bit.”

He said that “there’s a lot of jobs that I physically cannot do” as a result of his workplace injury, but he didn’t seek compensation because “at the time, it was literally the last thing on my mind.”

“I was able to work with those animals and that was my reward,” he said, adding that he still believes he made the right decision.

So… then why is he appearing in an ad for a personal injury law firm? Why is he telling people they should seek justice in civil court for their work-related injuries even though he didn’t sue after his horrific injury?

“It was a privilege for me to be able to return to work without compensation” for his injury, he said. “A lot of Americans don’t have that privilege.”

“I just got lucky, I really did.”

“Your injuries are permanent, and lifelong,” Saff concludes. “Your job is not.”

Tiger King showed the lives of workers at several animal parks and sanctuaries with large, dangerous animals. The documentary showed some employees working 16 hours a day, every single day, for very little compensation.

One employee at Joe Exotic’s animal park, where Saff worked, claimed that they were being paid $150 per week and that workers would often go through meat intended for the animals to find food for themselves.

Throughout the series, Saff was misgendered even though he uses “he” pronouns and identifies as a “guy.” In the personal injury ad, though, part of the 911 call made by a coworker after the 2013 tiger attack is played, and the coworker correctly refers to Saff with “he” pronouns.

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