The Associated Press
Monday, February 12, 2007
An animal lover was mauled to death by cheetahs at a zoo in northern Belgium, authorities and zoo officials said Monday.
It was unclear why Karen Aerts, 37, entered the cheetah cage late Sunday, Olmense Zoo spokesman Jan Libot said. She was found dead in the cage, Libot told VTM television.
Aerts, from the city of Antwerp, was a regular visitor to the zoo, which is 90 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of Brussels.
One of the cats that killed her was named Bongo. Aerts had adopted Bongo under a special program, paying for food for the cat, Libot said.
"Karen loved animals. Unfortunately the cheetahs betrayed her trust," he said.
Police said they were investigating why Aerts entered the cage, but ruled out any foul play.
They believe she hid somewhere in the park after it closed and managed to find the keys to the cheetah cage.
Animal rights group GAIA called for the immediate closure of the zoo, saying it was unsafe for both visitors and for the cats it is home to.
Rudy Demotte, Belgian minister responsible for animal welfare, has sent a team of inspectors to investigate.