Jason Wayne Hardin had been hired to drive a tiger to the Putnam County Fair and to put up fencing around the tiger's cage, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Kat Kelley, a spokeswoman for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the newspaper that Hardin was apparently drunk when he encountered the tiger. She said a deputy saw him stumbling and told him to go back to his trailer.
Hardin's trailer was inside the security fence that enclosed the tiger's cage. Investigators believe that he stuck his hand inside the cage or possibly brushed against it, scaring the tiger and he was bitten.
"This was strictly human error and poor judgment," Kelley said. "These are wild animals, and no matter how tame they are, they're still animals."
Hardin was flown to a University of Florida hospital in Gainesville where he was treated for severed tendons in his arm.