A 16-year-old Siberian tiger, Typhoon, mauled an unnamed Russian zookeeper in full view of Kaliningrad zoo’s visitors on Saturday.
This incident was a result of the tiger’s cage door being accidentally left open. When the handler entered the enclosure to bring it food, the tiger leapt at her, pinning her down while biting and clawing at her.
There were no other zoo employees present when the surprise attack happened. It occurred right by a fence that was just a few feet from where zoo visitors had just been taking photos of the world’s largest species of cat. In the next few moments, appalling photos show the tiger gnawing on the zookeeper as she lies frightened on her back in agony.
The commotion quickly drew a larger crowd, with one witness reporting that the woman’s face was bleeding while she was screaming and trying to fight off the animal.
The shocked onlookers immediately jumped into action, working together to save the zookeeper’s life. They shouted and threw stones at the predator. Reportedly, some men were able to lift a table and chairs from a cafe nearby and hurl them over the fence to distract it. Their combined efforts allowed the woman to escape to a secure part of the compound.
Additionally, the visitors acted courageously in calling an ambulance for the battered woman. She was then rushed to intensive care at a hospital in Kaliningrad. She was severely hurt and suffered from several injuries, however she is expected to survive.
“The patient was delivered to the hospital with multiple wounds to the body and limbs. She is conscious, her condition is assessed as stable but critical. There is no threat to her life,” a local health ministry spokesman confirmed.
The zoo released a statement in which they praised the visitors who saved the employee’s life:
“Visitors with their shouting, stones and other improvisation managed to distract the animal. This allowed the zoo employee to hide in a back room.”
A criminal investigation has been launched following the attack in order to find out the reasons for the tragedy’s occurrence.
Strangely, there have been conflicting reports of the zoo sedating the tiger.
Some reports say that zoo staff arrived immediately after the scene and shot a sedative into the tiger. Contrarily, eyewitnesses claimed that the animal was in fact not sedated after “almost killing the keeper.”
One source asserted that Typhoon had never before shown any aggression towards zoo staff, adding that today he was “bad tempered” and “aggressive.” Zoo officials described Typhoon as being stressed after the attack, and that they will not be disposing of the animal despite it tasting human blood. Apparently, the predator is not being blamed for its attack on the keeper. The spokesman reiterated that this was the first time in the history of the zoo that a tiger attacked a man.
“The Siberian tiger is a territorial animal. Protecting its territory is its natural instinct. This animal acted in full accordance with its instinct. It was not aggression. It was the defense of its territory,” a spokesperson stated.
Typhoon was born on July 1, 2001 in Chelyabinsk Zoo and was later moved to Kaliningrad Zoo. This year marks his 16th birthday.
Siberian tigers are a critically endangered species. In the wild, these tigers have a life expectancy of 15 years.
Featured image via Public Domain Pictures