Mauro Lagiard was feeding a group of tigers in a closed-down zoo when they attacked him and mauled him to death. His wife witnessed the attack and notified police, who confirmed his death at the scene, Reuters reports.
The zoo, named “Parco Martinat,” is located in a mountainous area near Turin. Since its closure in 2009, the facility still houses nine tigers and one leopard. The 72-year-old man and his wife have been tiger caretakers “for years” and lived on property near the enclosure, the Corriere della Sera daily reports.
'The owners [of the zoo] didn't want to part with the animals,” Anna Balangelo, the mayor of San Pietro Val Lemina where the zoo was located, told ANSA, on why the tigers still lived in the shut-down facility.
According to Italian media, the tigers attacked the man suddenly as he was feeding them. Once the ambulance arrived, it took half an hour for medics to safely reach him.
Local authorities have been looking to transfer the tigers, which were not sterilized and recently had pups, to a safer location. The tigers’ fate has yet to be decided.
This wasn’t the first time Lagiard was attacked by the giant cats. Seven years ago, one of the tigers, Samir, injured both him and his wife.
Tiger attacks have taken place in other zoos around the world. In 2008, three Bengal tigers mauled a man to death after he jumped into their enclosure. A video of the attack was captured by a tourist. Other zoo workers distracted the tigers to allow medics to treat Nordin bin Mondong, a 32-year-old Malaysian, but he died on the way to the hospital, AP reports.
A similar attack took place in Copenhagen last year when a 21-year-old man jumped into a Siberian tiger’s den and suffered bites to the throat, face, chest and thigh, police told the AP.