Jamaica zoo investigates as video shows man’s finger being bitten off by lion

Zoo says contractor’s actions are ‘tragic’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 23 May 2022 17:05
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Zookeeper gets finger bitten off by lion in Jamaica

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A Jamaican zoo has issued a statement after a video showing a man getting his finger bitten off by a lion went viral.

Jamaica Zoo Attractions said the man seen in the video was a “contractor”. The video was shared over the weekend showing the incident at the facility in St Elizabeth, a southwestern region on the island.

“The actions displayed in a video by a contractor to Jamaica Zoo, is tragic and do not represent the safety procedures and policies that must be adhered to at all times at Jamaica Zoo,” a statement from the zoo released on Sunday said.

They added that they are looking into the incident in an effort at stopping similar things from happening in the future.

“It is an unfortunate event that should never have happened, and we the family of Jamaica Zoo are doing everything to assist the gentleman in moving forward. We do hope you continue to support Jamaica Zoo. We have always been and will continue to be a safe place for you and your family to visit,” the statement said.

The video went viral on Twitter – it had been viewed almost 4 million times as of Monday morning after being posted on 21 May.

The contractor put his finger through the fence as visitors recorded the episode on their mobile phones. The Jamaica Observer reported that around 15 people witnessed the incident, which took place around 4.22pm on 21 May.

The footage shows the man touching the lion while it roars and shows its teeth. When the lion bites the man’s finger it prompts a struggle as the contractor curses and tries to pull his finger from the lion’s mouth.

The man’s finger is eventually severed and he falls to the ground.

“When it happened, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think it was serious,” an unnamed visitor told the Jamaica Observer.

“I didn’t realise the seriousness of it, because it’s their job to put on a show,” she added. “Obviously, when he fell on the ground everybody realized that it was serious. Everybody started to panic.”

“The entire skin and about the first joint of his finger was gone,” the visitor said, according to the outlet. “I ran away from the whole thing because [I don’t] like [to] see blood and it was too graphic for me.”

“His facial expression when he was walking is like the pain never kicked in,” the spectator added.

The Managing Director at the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NEPA), Pamela Lawson, told the Observer that they would be investigating the incident.

“We will be going down there and I will be communicating with the National Environment and Planning Agency who has oversight over Jamaica Zoo,” she said.

“It’s just not common sense... There have been many complaints about Jamaica Zoo,” she added, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “You keep kicking ... After a while, it’s going to turn around and bite you.”

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