Horrified tourists watch as zookeeper's finger is ripped off by caged lion in viral clip

'The entire skin and about the first joint of his finger was gone,' said one witness who ran from the scene


                            Horrified tourists watch as zookeeper's finger is ripped off by caged lion in viral clip
Jamaican zookeeper lost his finger after annoying a caged lion (Photo: @OneciaG/Twitter)
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As much as videos of 'cuddly' big cats on YouTube may have convinced you otherwise, there is a reason why they are called apex predators. Wild beasts, without proper socialization sessions from when they are very young, never really stop seeing humans as possible threats. A sure-fire way of getting yourself injured or being ripped to pieces is by not respecting a big cat's personal space. In a recent incident, a Jamaican zookeeper forgot this adage when he wanted to 'show off' to tourists and make it look like he had a friendly bond with a zoo lion. He sadly got his finger bitten and ripped off by an annoyed lion. On Friday, May 20, the lion chomped down on the zookeeper's finger in front of shocked tourists. According to the Jamaica Observer, the incident occurred at the Jamaica Zoo in St Elizabeth.

On Twitter, disturbing footage shows the zookeeper putting his hand into the lion's mouth, apparently to put on a show for zoo visitors. He then attempts to pet the large cat despite the lion snarling at him and roaring. When the lion clamped down on the man's finger and refused to let go, the ill-advised act went horribly wrong. What followed was a terrifying tug of war that ended with the keeper's finger being ripped off. The visitors were in shock over the horrific incident.

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The lion bit off the top of the man's finger, right up from the first joint, according to an eyewitness who spoke to the Jamaica Observer. “When it happened, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think it was serious. I didn’t realize the seriousness of it, because it’s their job to put on a show,” she explained. “Obviously, when he fell on the ground everybody realized that it was serious. Everybody started to panic,” she continued. 

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The accident happened in front of roughly 15 zoo visitors, some of whom were documenting the event. Witnesses added that the man managed to walk away to a truck and drove off despite his injuries. The woman said, “The entire skin and about the first joint of his finger was gone.” She continued, “I ran away from the whole thing, because me, nuh... like see blood and it was too graphic for me.” She added, “His facial expression when he was walking is like the pain never kicked in.”

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(Representational image) The witness claimed that the lion ripped off the man's finger and it was too graphic for her to watch it. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

 

Initially, the zoo management claimed it was unaware of the incident, but the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is looking into it. Managing director Pamela Lawson said, “We will be going down there and I will be communicating with the National Environment and Planning Agency who has oversight over Jamaica Zoo.” Later on Sunday, May 22, the zoo spokesperson said, “The actions displayed in a video by a contractor to Jamaica Zoo are tragic and do not represent the safety procedures and policies that must be adhered to at all times at Jamaica Zoo.” Moreover, the injured man is also being aided and is being given full medical care.

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