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March 7, 2010

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Tiger kills zoo keeper

AN animal keeper was killed when a tiger bit into his neck and dragged him around the cage at Shanghai Zoo yesterday morning.

The 53-year-old victim, Li Zhonglin, was about to clean the cage and feed the Bengal tiger at 8:15am when it suddenly jumped out and bit him, witnesses said.

The tiger dragged Li around inside the cage as more than 10 shocked visitors watched.

Li waved his arms for help several times but was soon unable to move and finally laid on the ground. All his clothes had been ripped by the tiger.

The alarmed visitors called the attention of other keepers and police.

Zoo officials reached the scene at 8:40am and tried to drive the tiger away by shooting anaesthetics into him.

The beast let go of Li 10 minutes later but he was pronounced dead when ambulances arrived.

"Zoo staff said that the tiger didn't have anything to eat yesterday. It must have been starving," said one of the witnesses.

Zoo officials explained that keepers don't feed the tigers on Friday to assist their digestive systems.

Officials said the cause of the mishap was that Li, who had been working as a keeper for 31 years, failed to tightly lock the door of the tiger lair when cleaning the parade area for tigers and pumas.

The hungry tiger somehow managed to escape from the lair and attacked him.

"The tragedy could have been avoided," said zoo official Pan Xiuwen.

The male Bengal tiger, born in November, 1999, was quarantined after the tragedy.

Officials with the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Administrative Bureau said the tiger "had no physical problem."

The police and the bureau were still investigating the case yesterday. The compensation for Li's family was still under discussion, zoo officials said.

It is the second case of a man being bitten to death by a tiger in the city. In 1999, a 41-year-old tour bus driver died after he left a broken-down bus in the tigers' zone and was attacked by a nearby wandering beast at Shanghai Wildlife Park.


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