A fellow zookeeper rushed in to help a 24-year-old colleague after two lions attacked him when he entered their enclosure in a north Germany zoo on May 4.
The 24-year-old went inside the lions’ enclosure in the Serengeti Park zoo in Hodenhagen in Lower Saxony on Saturday morning when the incident happened, reported Daily Mail.
The police spokesman in Walsrode said that the zookeeper entered the lions’ enclosure after they were served meat, about five minutes before the zoo was to open for visitors, reported the DW.
A fellow keeper saw the attack and rushed inside and pulled him out to safety. He was flown to a hospital with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries.
Authorities were not clear why the keeper went inside the enclosure after the lions had been served meat.
The Serengeti Park zoo with 1,500 animals is spread over 296 acres of land and is divided into four themed lands—animal world, monkey world, water world, and the theme park world, according to Germany.travel
In a similar incident, a lion attacked a tamer during a performance in Ukraine on March 23.
The circus tamer brushed off the moment a lion pinned him to the floor and sunk its teeth into his arm to screams and gasps from the audience.
Video footage from the circus shows trainer Hamada Kouta struggling to regain control of the lion after it became aggressive.
Eventually, the bloodied Kouta scrambled to his feet and coaxed the lion back into its cage before calming the audience down and continuing with the show.
Kouta later refused to blame the animal, telling Louga 24, the local TV station in the city of Louga where the circus was performing, that the lions were his “children” and that the fault was his own.
Pictures show Kouta with deep scratches and gouge marks on his arms and shoulder.
“I called up one lion, and the second one attacked me from the front,” he said. “I stopped him in the middle of the ring and calmed him down but he refused to return to his sitting position. I stepped backward, there was a stand behind me, I hit it and fell.”
“The lion jumped at me and bit me—but thank God, not on my neck.”
“My back, arm, and leg were hurt. Scars from two claws and one tooth are on my leg, tooth marks on my arm, one 4 cm deep from three claws on my back.”
The lion eventually retreated as the trainer fought back and eventually returned to its cage.
Kouta told local media that he tried to resume the performance to help calm down the children who can be heard screaming as the lion pins him to the ground.
“I calmly called them back, because there were children in the audience,” he said, according to Louga 24. “The most important thing for me is to see children in the audience.”
“Of course, I was covered in blood, but I asked everybody to calm down, and started the performance all over again, from the beginning.”
According to the Evening Standard, a mother watching with her two children said, “My heart stopped when the lion pounced at the trainer.”
Kouta said the lions were unsettled because they were made to perform soon after arriving in a new location. Normally they are given 3 days to settle.
“They did not have time to adapt, because we arrived and immediately began to perform,” he said.
“They were in stress, so it led to the attack.”
‘They Can be Moody, Like People’
He said that good trainers need to be sensitive to the mood of the animals.
“They can be moody, like people. For example, you can wake up in the morning in a bad mood. That’s it, the whole day will be like this. They are just the same.”
But for Kouta, scratches, and scars are part of the job description.
“I even have 72 stitches on my belly,” he said, according to CIXD. “Every scar for me is an experience. Because when such attacks occur, this cannot be repeated.”
But despite the attack, Kouta hasn’t lost trust in the lions he calls his children.
“But there is a red line, if you step over—it may go the wrong way.”
Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.