Zookeeper mauled to death by lion at safari park

Tohoku Safari Park in Fukushima, Japan  (Google Street View)
Tohoku Safari Park in Fukushima, Japan (Google Street View)

A zookeeper died on Thursday after being attacked by a lion at Tohoku Safari Park in Japan.

Kenichi Kato, 53, was attempting to lure the lion into his cage with food when the animal pounced on him and grabbed him by his neck.

A local police spokesperson said Kato was found bleeding profusely and lying unconscious inside the lion’s cage.

The spokesperson told AFP: “It is believed that he was feeding a lion.”

Kato was rushed to the hospital but later died from his wounds.

A senior park official said Kato, while trying to feed the lion, had likely forgotten to lock the door that separated him from the animal.

Norichika Kumakubo, vice-president of the park, told local reporters: “The process is that we open the door, and place the food. Once the food is placed, the door is to be closed and locked.”

“But the door was open at the time.”

Kato was a beloved veteran who had been working at the zoo for 27 years and dealt with dangerous animals such as lions, tigers and bears.

The zoo, which will remain shut for the next few days, said: “We deeply apologise to Mr Kato and his family. We regard this extremely seriously. We will take measures to prevent similar accidents.”