A tiger at a breeding farm on the island province of Hainan attacked and killed its keeper of eight years on Sunday morning.
The incident occurred when 42-year-old Phornhen Doenklang, from Thailand, was cleaning out the cage of two tigers at Longhu Zoo- a tiger and crocodile farm in Sanya City.
A male tiger, in his mating season, leapt onto the keeper as he picked up a broom and bit his leg and neck. Doenklang was rushed to hospital but died during medical treatment.
Doenklang had been in charge of the 8-year-old tiger since the latter's birth according to Mr. Wang, the zoo director.
"Tigers are irritable during mating season, and the recent weather has exacerbated that," said Wang. "The tiger might have thought Phornhen was going to hit him when he bent to pick up the broom."
At the request of Doenklang's wife, who looks after tiger cubs on the farm, the zoo is contacting airline companies to fly Doenklang's body back to Thailand while the tiger's fate is still being discussed.
The Longhu Farm houses 370 tigers and nearly 20,000 crocodiles and is jointly run with a Thai company which has sent 40 employees to work in China.
(Xinhua News Agency May 22, 2007)