Sunday 8 December 2019

Chinese gardener mauled to death by tigers

Malcolm Moore

A gardener in a zoo in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has been mauled to death after accidentally falling into a tiger enclosure.

Sheng Jinhua, 54, reportedly clambered over a six-foot glass barrier before falling into the clutches of five Siberian tigers that were waiting underneath.

Mr Sheng, who only signed a full contract with the Shenzhen Safari Park in July, was trying to remove weeds from a section of the enclosure inside the barrier, according to some observers.

"I saw him holding onto the top of the glass barrier with one hand, and trying to grasp something with the other," one unnamed tiger keeper at the zoo told the Southern Metropolis newspaper. He added that he saw "four or five" tigers rushing towards Mr Sheng and quickly ran to the pen to try to save him.

By the time he reached the spot, however, Mr Sheng had already lost his grip and fallen into the tiger pack. "He sustained a lethal injury to his neck," said the tiger keeper.

The incident occurred at 2.45pm on Thursday, during normal visiting hours at the park. The management of the private zoo was unavailable for comment, while Shenzhen police said they were still investigating the circumstances of the case.

In a statement, zoo officials said Mr Sheng had violated safety rules by climbing over the barrier. There were nine tigers kept inside the enclosure, and visitors to the park are allowed to feed pieces of meat to the animals through a special barrier in one part of the pen.

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