A rare white tiger killed a zookeeper at the Hirakawa Zoological Park in Kagoshima and now officials are investigating whether any safety laws had been violated and how the zoo looks after its tigers.
An employee found Akira Furusho, 40, collapsed in the tiger’s enclosure and bleeding from the neck on Monday afternoon, Kyodo News reported.
According to BBC, the incident reportedly occurred when Furusho went to clean the enclosure.
Usually tigers are first removed from the pen before staff enter. However, zoo director Akinori Ishido noted that no one was around when the attack took place and they “cannot imagine what happened,” The New York Times reported.
Furusho was taken to a hospital but later died from his injuries.
The tiger was sedated by rescue workers but, upon the request of Furusho’s family, was kept alive.
“We plan not to kill Riku and continue to keep it because the bereaved family asked us to do so,” said Takuro Nagasako, a zoo official, according to BBC.
The zoo was open Tuesday, but access to the area around the tiger’s display cage was limited.
A similar incident took place In Sweden last year when a bear killed a 19-year-old zookeeper who was cleaning its enclosure.
The 2-year-old brown bear had been removed from the enclosure, but is thought to have tunneled his way back in while the zookeeper was cleaning it.
A tiger at a zoo in Poland killed its keeper in 2015, a day before the zoo was scheduled to host a global conference of zoo directors.
The Sumatran tiger killed the keeper, who had caring for the tigers at the zoo in Wroclaw for about 15 years, during what was believed to be a routine cleaning of the enclosure.
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