Tigers kill zoo visitor after gate left open

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 June, 2010, 12:00am

A man was mauled to death by a group of Siberian tigers after he and his son walked into the animals' enclosure in a wildlife park in Shaanxi on Sunday, mainland media reported yesterday.

The zookeeper in charge of the tiger enclosure at Xian's Qinling Wildlife Park has been detained by police for failing to close the gates before the father and son entered the enclosure, the China News Service reported.

The enclosure's gates are only supposed to be opened for tourist buses. Police said the father and son had wandered into the area because the zookeeper failed to close the gates immediately after a tourist bus passed through them at about 1pm on Sunday.

The 45-year-old man was found dead with bites on his neck. He was believed to have bled to death.

His 17-year-old son, who was attacked by three tigers, was rescued by zoo workers in two rescue vehicles.

'The boy was numb with shock,' one member of the rescue team told the Modern Express.

The boy told the newspaper that he had gone to the wildlife park with his father after finishing the university entrance exams.

He said they entered the tiger enclosure when the first set of gates automatically opened after they arrived. They proceeded into the enclosure because the second set of gates was not closed, only to realise a few seconds later, when about five tigers jumped out, that they were in a dangerous situation.

'We then realised we shouldn't have gone there,' he said.

The boy, who suffered minor injuries to his legs, was taken to hospital after being rescued.

The park said it had put up signs warning tourists not to enter the tiger enclosure on foot. It told the Modern Express that the pair could have trespassed into the park without buying tickets, a claim the boy rejected.

Employees at the park said the pair were attacked by male Siberian tigers born in 2007. The wildlife park is home to 48 tigers, 44 from the Siberian subspecies and four Bengal white tigers. There were five tigers in the enclosure at the time.

Lying in wait

Zoo workers say male Siberian tigers born in 2007 attacked father and son

The number of tigers in the park: 48