Kelci "Saff" Saffery fast became a known face following the March debut of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem & Madness on Netflix. But before the eight-part docuseries highlighted his accident, fans seemingly had no idea how tragic things got for him. During the second episode, Saff recounted how he lost part of his arm while on the job, giving fans a rather gruesome look into how painful his accident was despite coming off more chill having undergone through something so life-changing. However, years later and in an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Saff said it wasn't as easy of a process as some may have thought amid the appearance of his calming behavior.
"It was not as smooth as people may have thought just by my demeanor," Saff revealed when asked if the adjustment was more natural than anticipated. "I had a rough go at it. I went almost 30 years at that point with two functioning hands, and I hit the floor running, 90 miles an hour, so it was a matter of slowing down and restarting, learning how to live one-handed, how to function and make use of what I have to the best of its ability." While working for Joe "Exotic" Maldonado-Passage at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park — now owned by rival Carol Baskin — Saff was just doing his job when his arm bit off by one of the tigers on property.
"It was more of a mental thing for me personally than it was a physical thing," he confessed. "Your body is strong, your body adapts and overcomes more so than your mind. So I had to get to a point where my mind was saying, 'Hey, just keep going.' And once I did that, I'd say it took me about a year to kind of fully get to that point and just press on with what I got [to] make the best of it."
To many people's surprise, Saff was back at work just one week later after the horrific accident. However, now he is using his platform to raise awareness for workers across the United States as he partnered with Georgia-based law firm, Boder Scott. His motive is to remind workers that if they get injured while at work — much like Saff did — there are options and opportunities to get covered financially. "Millions of Americans I'm sure get hurt on the job, injured on the job, and a lot of — I feel — issues with pursuing anything is that they're not sure if they can, or they're not sure if they have the means or what [the] process is [like]," he explained before noting that an employer will carry on regardless of what happens to one of their employees, and that's why it's important to cover one's self.
"Yes, you take a risk when you're working for jobs that carry a little bit more danger than others, but that is why Workers Compensation is put into place because things happened," he explained. "I definitely was very honored to be a part of that message in particular," he said of joining the law firm but notes how he considers himself lucky because he was able to return to work, whereas others are not as fortunate.