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Boy left paralyzed by lion, tiger attack

A 10-year-old Royalton boy is paralyzed after his spinal cord was severed when he was attacked last week by a tiger and lion at a friend's business in Little Falls.

The boy, Russell Lala, was in serious condition Tuesday at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Russell was injured after he and his father, Nicholas Lala, visited their friend, Chuck Mock, the owner of Best Buy Auto in Little Falls, who owned 11 large cats and one bear that are kept in cages on his property. The attack occurred at 10:43 p.m. June 22 when Mock opened the door of a cage and a tiger pushed its way out to attack the boy. Mock and the father pulled the tiger off the boy and then the lion bit Russell and dragged him to another part of the cage.

Russell's parents, Nick and Roseanne Lala, released a statement Tuesday stating that during the attack Russell suffered brain injury, numerous facial fractures and a severed spinal cord that will leave him quadriplegic and dependent upon a respirator. "His recovery and rehabilitation will be long," Nick and Roseanne Lala said in the statement.

In the statement, the Lalas also expressed their gratitude for the thoughts and prayers on behalf of their son. They thanked the emergency medical personnel, doctors, nurses and other caregivers of St. Gabriel's Hospital in Little Falls, St. Cloud Hospital and the Hennepin County Medical Center for the care Russell received.

"The outpouring of support from people in Royalton, Little Falls, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities has touched our hearts," the Lalas said in the statement. "Russell is a fighter and, while he is still in serious condition, he is communicating with us and we see his strong spirit coming through."

Trust funds for Russell Lala have been established at the Pine Country Bank, P.O. Box 25, Royalton, MN 56373; and at any Wells Fargo Bank location, with checks to be made out to Benefit Account for Russell Lala or by mail at Wells Fargo, attn. Kim Becker, Sixth and Marquette, Mac N9305-101, Minneapolis, MN 55479.

The lion and tiger were euthanized.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said Mock had 11 large cats and one bear registered with the state.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case in Morrison County as of Tuesday.