A zookeeper has shot dead two lions in front of a horrified crowd of zoo visitors, to save the life of a naked man, suspected to be insane, who had forced his way into the animals’ cage in an apparent bid to be killed and eaten.
The man, named as Franco Luis Ferrada Roman by media in Chile, had reportedly scaled the rooftop of the lion enclosure at Santiago National Zoo in the country’s capital. He then forced his way into the lions’ den, stripped naked and goaded the lions into attacking him.
When the lions leapt at Roman, 20, a zookeeper fired tranquiliser darts – only for a dart to accidentally strike Roman in the neck.
The zookeeper then opened fire with live rounds, slaughtering the lions. Parents covered their children’s eyes as two lions were shot dead.
Roman was rushed to hospital and was said to be in grave condition, with injuries to pelvis and head, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported.
The incident has led to an outpouring of anger at the zoo and the decision to shoot the lions.
While zoos strive to separate people and animals, it is not always possible to prevent deranged or grievously depressed individuals from leaping into enclosures to confront large carnivores.
Last year, an endangered white tiger killed an apparently drunk man who had leapt into its cage at New Delhi zoo. In December, a disturbed man vaulted into the polar bear’s pit at Copenhagen Zoo, forcing zookeepers to fire rubber bullets at the bear so they could rescue the man.
In 2009, zookeepers at Berlin Zoo were moments away from shooting two very popular polar bears to save the life of a woman who had jumped into their enclosure. Rifles had already been issued and marksmen were taking aim. The woman was eventually rescued without zookeepers having to open fire. She was mauled and bitten by one of the polar bears but survived.
Written by Peter Needham