SANTIAGO (Web Desk) – A man who stripped naked and entered a lion enclosure in a Chilean zoo has survived the incident, according to local media. However, the lions were killed to protect him.
The zoo administration said it was forced to kill two lions on Saturday to protect a suicidal man who had entered their cage in front of visitors.
Security protocols kicked in immediately when staff saw the man climb down with a rope into the African lions’ enclosure, the head of Santiago Zoo, Alejandra Montalva, told television network TVN.
The carnivorous felines, a male and a female, instinctively attacked and had to be put down. Anesthetic darts would not have stopped the attack in time, the zoo official explained.
“We’re shaken by this because the animals in the zoo are part of our family,” Montalva said.
“These were lions that had been with us for more than 20 years.”
The man, in his 20s or 30s, was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. He has been named by local media as Franco Luis Ferrada Roman.
One witness, Cynthia Vasquez, told Chilean radio station Bio Bio that the security personnel at the zoo were slow to react and that the animals did not attack the man as soon as he entered the enclosure.
“He entered the enclosure from above and the lions started to play with him, and then after they attacked him,” she said.
She criticized the actions of security personnel, saying ‘first they threw water, evacuated the people and only later did they fire shots’.
According to the news channel, a suicide note found inside the man’s clothes said that he had decided to end his life due to the oncoming apocalypse.
Metropolitan Park director Mauricio Fabry confirmed that a note – which appeared to be a suicide note – was found in his clothing.