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Chinese police shoot killer lion


Animal rights groups have criticised conditions in zoos in China

A lion in a Chinese zoo has been killed after it fatally mauled its keeper and escaped its enclosure.

The lion was loose in the zoo for more than an hour before officials managed to track it down and shoot it.

The Beijing Youth Daily newspaper quoted a police spokesperson as saying they cornered the lion by a wall within the zoo grounds and shot it dead to "ensure the safety of park visitors". 

Authorities said the 65-year-old keeper was cleaning the enclosure at the Taian Tiger Mountain Park when the lion bit him on his shoulders and neck.

He died later from his injuries

In China it is standard practice for zookeepers and other staff to clean out enclosures while their animals are still active and awake.

Reports in Chinese media did not say how the lion managed to get out of its enclosure after the early morning attack but an undercover report by a Chinese television network last year found the park to be in a serious state of disrepair.

Officials put up steel barriers at the park's entrance following the lion's escape, and evacuated zoo staff and visitors while police combed the area searching for the beast.

A reporter with news portal Youth.cn said shortly after 8am local time "continuous gunfire" could be heard.

The park reopened for business shortly after midday.

The incident took place in the Taian Tiger Mountain Park in the eastern province of Shandong, and is the fourth time a zookeeper has been killed in China since January.

In a similar incident in March, a keeper was mauled to death by a tiger at a zoo in Jiangxi province while also cleaning its enclosure.

In that case, the animal was tranquillised before it was put down.

Two keepers at a zoo in Shanghai were killed by tigers in separate incidents at the beginning of the year.

Online Editors