Zoo’s tiger exhibit closed after tiger kills worker
A zoo in Binh Duong Province has been asked to shut down and strengthen its tiger enclosures after a tiger killed a worker Thursday. Experts had warned the cages were unsafe two years ago.
Duong Thanh Phi, director of Dai Nam Zoo, told inspectors at the zoo on Friday that the tiger had jumped over a 2.5 meter wall between its cage to another where some workers were planting trees.
The tiger mauled and killed one worker.
Phi said he was so confused when the accident happened on Thursday that he incorrectly stated that the wall was five meters tall.
The tiger area will be closed for at least one week starting Friday and iron fences five meters tall will be built surrounding the tiger cages, the zoo has noticed.
During the inspection, officers from the province Forest Management Department said the wall was two low for the tiger, a five-year-old male weighing 180 kilos.
There were several artificial stones around the wall that the officers posited that the tiger may have used as a platform to jump off.
Tran Van Nguyen, deputy head of the department, said the incident should be considered a big lesson for all owners of wild animals, especially tigers.
Nguyen said the police would handle the death of the worker while his agency could only ask the zoo to improve its facilities. “We’ve got no laws or regulations about managing wild animals by which to penalize the zoo.”
He added that raising wild animals in captivity was not encouraged and thus authorities had not issued requirements for such cages.
Risks were known
Dai Nam Zoo was one of three Binh Duong Province facilities licensed by the government in 2006 to raise wild tigers under a pilot project.
But in 2007, a joint inspection team from the provincial Forest Management Department, the Vietnam Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, and CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) came to check the three units and found they did not guarantee safety.
The team warned that it would be easy for the tigers to escape from these places, including Thanh Canh Company and the Pacific Beer Company.
A plan submitted by Dai Nam Zoo in June asking for permission to raise wild tigers on a more open space was found to lack effective measures to protect visitors. It was thus returned for revision and scheduled to be submitted again by the end of this year.