updated 7/11/2005 1:22:19 PM ET 2005-07-11T17:22:19

A 10-year-old boy who was attacked by a lion and tiger last week suffered a brain injury and severed spinal cord in the mauling — injuries that have left the child a quadriplegic and dependent on a respirator, his family said Tuesday.

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Russell Lala was attacked last Wednesday during a visit with the animals’ owner.

“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,” his parents Nick and Roseanne Lala said in a statement.

The child and his father were visiting body shop owner Chuck Mock, who owns 11 exotic cats and one bear. When Mock opened the cage, the tiger jumped out and attacked the boy. While Mock was pulling the animal away, the lion bit the child.

Along with the brain injury and severed spinal cord, Russell sustained numerous facial fractures, according to the parents’ statement. They said he faces a long rehabilitation.

Phone calls Tuesday to Mock’s residence went unanswered.

Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said last week Mock kept the animals as “a novelty.”

The lion and the tiger were destroyed last week.

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