Zookeeper savaged to death by lion after fatal mishap in beast’s enclosure

A zookeeper has been mauled to death by a lion after entering the beast's enclosure.

Police confirmed today (Friday, September 29) that Kenichi Kato, 53, had passed away as a result of his injuries.

Kato was a worker at Tohoku Safari Park in the Fukushima region of Japan. On Thursday (September 28) he was discovered in the lion's cage unconscious and bleeding profusely from this neck. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and later pronounced dead.

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"It is believed that he was feeding a lion," a local police spokesman told AFP. Senior park officials told reporters that Kato was attempting to lure the lion to a cage with food. However, it is thought he failed to lock a door that would have separated him from the predator.

Norichika Kumakubo, vice-president of Tohoku Safari Park, said: "The process is that we open the door, and place the food. Once the food is placed, the door is to be closed and locked". He added that the "door was open at the time", with security footage showing the moment the lion pounced on him.

"We deeply apologise to Mr. Kato and his family," Kumakubo said. "We regard this extremely seriously. We will take measures to prevent similar accidents."

According to local media outlets, Kato had worked at Tohoku Safari Park for 27 years and was experienced in dealing with beasts such as lions, tigers and bears.

Kumakubo added that the park is to remain closed until measures that can prevent this tragedy occurring again are implemented.

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