Tiger kills zookeeper while cleaning cage

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SHANGHAI (AFP) – A Chinese zookeeper was killed by a tiger while cleaning out his cage, officials from Shanghai Zoo said Wednesday.

The nine-year-old tiger mauled the man to death, said a message on the zoo’s official microblogging page on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

The Shanghai Daily said the victim was a 57-year-old man surnamed Zhou, who had been due to retire from the zoo in three years.

The man was mauled by the tiger before it had been fed, it added, but quoted a zoo official ruling out hunger being a motive behind the attack.

“It is not likely the tiger killed Zhou because of hunger, as tigers in the zoo are fed once every day except Friday to train tigers’ ability to hunt food by imitating the wild environment,” said Tu Rongxin, director of the feeding division of the zoo.

Zhou had taken care of the tiger for three to four years, the newspaper said, citing Tu.

The tiger was named in reports as Yingying and was born at the zoo, in China’s commercial hub.

“Shanghai Zoo discovered a zookeeper was bitten to death at 10.30 am,” said the message on the zoo’s Weibo page.

“He was dead when we arrived at the scene,” it said, adding that an investigation has been launched.

The zoo also said the tiger had no previous history of aggression. Reports said it will not be destroyed as a result of the attack.

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