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Lieutenant's Lark Slogs to D.C. International Win

November 16, 1986

A 450-pound Bengal tiger named Rakhan was just playing "rough" when he leaped off the stage at a high school pep rally and mauled a football player, his handler said in San Mateo.

Dragging two handlers frantically hanging onto a chain leash, Rakhan pounced into the front row of a screaming audience of about 1,400 students, landing on Craig Henderson, a 210-pound tackle for the San Mateo High School Bearcats.

Henderson, a junior defensive lineman, received 78 stitches to close a wound on the underside of his arm above his right elbow. He returned to school later in the day but sat out Saturday's game against Burlingame High.

There are "absolutely no plans" to destroy Rakhan because of the attack, said Mary O'Herron, spokeswoman for Marine World-Africa USA, owner of the animal.

Rakhan is "a good cat, has always been a good cat and will continue to be a good cat," she said, stressing that the tiger got caught up in the excitement of the pep rally.

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