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Can stuff like this please stop happening? Image by Regis Leroy

Something truly bizarre and disturbing happened in a zoo in Chile on Saturday, May 21. A man found his way into a lions enclosure, stripped naked, and taunted the lions into attacking him in front of many families, holidaymakers, and employees of Santiago’s Metropolitan Zoo.

What happened next is incredibly sad. After the lions began to react to the man’s taunting, the zookeepers attempted to steer them away. First with a water hose, second with a tranquillizer, and finally with live ammunition. As a result, these two majestic creatures died in front of a massive crowd of sightseers. It was later found that the man had left a suicide note inside of his clothes, shedding light on his actions — this was a suicide attempt. He was unsuccessful in his efforts, with his doctors being “cautiously optimistic” of his survival, but the man is in grave condition.


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Image by Griselda Turco

The zookeepers were put in the most difficult of positions that day, having to choose between human and animal lives. Much criticism has come from social media, with many of the public holding the view that they should have let the lions live at the expense of the man. Others have sympathy, commenting on the treatment of people that have mental health problems, such as the man involved. If the man had fell into the enclosure and not jumped, would the backlash from the media be so severe? Regardless of your viewpoint, having different plans of action depending on these different situations would perhaps create even more of a problem. The zookeepers couldn’t have just sit back and said “leave it, he jumped”.

It was a brave move by the zookeepers to save the man’s life, but it has cost the world two of its most beautiful animals. What is apparent, is that they weren’t quite ready for an event like this — if they had been, then all three involved lives may be intact, not just one.


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