A man who stripped naked and entered a lion enclosure in a Chilean zoo has survived the incident, but the lions were killed.
Authorities in Santiago confirmed that the two African lions were put down as they severely mauled the 20-year-old man who had broken into their cage early on Saturday.
The man, who has been named by local media as Franco Luis Ferrada Roman, was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and was said to be in grave condition.
A 20-year-old man took off his clothes and broke into a lion enclosure at Santiago zoo Saturday, where he was mauled by lions
Zoo keepers killed two lions to save the man, who was gravely injured in the incident. A suicide note was reported to have been found in his clothing
The young man broke into the enclosure, took off his clothes and jumped into the middle, horrifying other visitors who witnessed the attack.
Once inside, the lions reportedly immediately pounced on him and began to ‘play’ with him.
At this point, zookeepers intervened in the attack and shot the two lions in order to save his life.
The director of the zoo, Alejandra Montalva, said: ‘We believe that this person entered as a visitor and paid for his ticket.
She told local media the park was crowded with visitors at the time of the incident.
‘Later he trespassed into an area where the public are not normally allowed and we understand that he forced the roof of the lion’s enclosure.
‘It was from there that he jumped, took off his clothes and started to attract the lions.’
The zoo director said she was ‘deeply affected’ by the deaths of the two lions, a male and a female.
‘The zoo has an established protocol because people’s lives are very important to us,’ said Montalba.
She added that there were no fast-acting tranquilizers available to stop the lions from mauling the man.
The attack occurred in full view of visitors, who could only watch in horror as the man was mauled and the lions – one male, one female – were killed
One witness, Cynthia Vasquez, told Chilean radio station Bio Bio that the security personnel at the zoo were slow to react and that the animals did not attack the man as soon as he entered the enclosure.
‘He entered the enclosure from above and the lions started to play with him, and then after they attacked him,’ she said.
She also said the man was ‘shouting things about Jesus’.
She criticised the actions of the security personal, saying ‘first they threw water, evacuated the people and only later did they fire shots’.
A father who was at the park with his young son, told news channel Chilevision: ‘Everyone started screaming when they saw him.’
Another witness added: ‘There were a lot of children there, and parents covered their eyes while it was going on.’
They continued: ‘He was screaming religious things.’
According to the news channel, the suicide note that was found inside his clothes made allusions to the apocalypse as being a reason for his attempt to take his life.
Metropolitan Park director Mauricio Fabry confirmed that a note – which appeared to be a suicide note – was found in his clothing.
By Saturday evening, Mr Ferrada Roman was said to no longer be in a life-threatening condition, according to Chilean media.
Dr Sebastian Ugarde of Indisa Clinic said that Mr Ferrada Roman’s heart almost stopped.
He added: ‘He suffered several injuries and trauma to the head and the pelvic area.
‘We have high hopes that will recover and that will be fine.’