Warning: Graphic Content
Two lions were killed after they severely mauled a man who stripped naked and entered their enclosure in an apparent suicide attempt early on Saturday, authorities said.
The man was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and was said to be in grave condition.
Director Alejandra Montalba of Santiago’s Metropolitan Zoo told local media the park was crowded with visitors at the time of the incident.
The 20-year-old man broke into the enclosure, took off his clothes and jumped into the middle, horrifying other visitors who witnessed the attack. Zookeepers killed the two lions in order to save his life.
“The zoo has an established protocol because people’s lives are very important to us,” said Montalba, adding that there were no fast-acting tranquilisers available to stop the lions from mauling the man. She said she was “deeply affected” by the deaths of the two lions, a male and a female.
“We’re shaken by this because the animals in the zoo are part of our family,” Montalba said. “These were lions that had been with us for more than 20 years.”
An apparent suicide note was found in the man’s clothing, said Metropolitan Park director Mauricio Fabry. Witness reported he also made religious proclamations.