Two zookeepers have been killed by tigers this week at separate zoos in China, according to state media.
In the first incident on Sunday, a 55-year-old keeper named Yang was mauled to death as he cleaned a tiger’s cage at a zoo in eastern Anhui province.
Yang had been a tiger handler at the Zhanggongshan Zoo in Bengbu for nearly two decades, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.
On Tuesday, police shot two tigers dead after they mauled a zookeeper during feeding time and escaped their enclosure at a park in central Henan province. The keeper, surnamed Jia, was hospitalised but later died of his injuries.
Authorities at Danjiang Peacock Valley, Xichuan County, evacuated guests and staff while police and forestry workers were called to the scene, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Attempts to anesthetise and trap the animals were unsuccessful. Fearing the tigers would reach the dense forest near the park, where they could pose a danger to local residents, police decided to shoot them, officials told the broadcaster.
According to state-run Beijing News, the tigers were on loan from a circus in Suzhou, Anhui province, more than 600km away, and had been rented for a performance at Henan park.
Officials in Suzhou said the use of tigers for performances has been banned since 2018, and no licence had been approved for their transport or use, the paper reported, adding an investigation would be held.
Authorities in Xichuan are also investigating Danjiang Peacock Valley and have ordered the business to suspend operations, CCTV reported.
The tiger attacks come just weeks after three leopards escaped from a park in Hangzhou.
Park managers neglected to tell local residents and warn them of the danger for a week.
Two of the leopards were caught but one remains on the loose, presumed dead.