The “payback” came fast and harsh. A zookeeper accused of being cruel by boiling big cat bones to make wine has been mauled to death by a tiger.
The man was cleaning the animals’ enclosure when he was attacked unprovoked on May 8.
The man in his 50s happened to be left alone inside the pen by one of his colleagues at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village in the city of Guilin in southern China. When the colleague returned some time later, he found the other zookeeper lifeless already.
The zoo has already confirmed mauling as the cause of the zookeeper’s death, although it has not fully specified which species of animal attacked their employee.
The Guilin government has released a statement saying they are investigating said keeper’s death. It marks the second death of a keeper in the same zoo in 14 years after another staff member was killed in 2004 while feeding the big cats.
The zoo is home to over 1,100 tigers including South China tigers, Bengal tigers, white tigers and Siberian tigers. The zoo also has more than 600 Asian black bears. Chinese media also report that it was once one of the country’s largest breeding facilities.
The zoo had no tourists at the time of the attack as it has been under renovations since November of last year.
The facility has been largely criticized following news investigations in 2016 claiming to have found disheveled tigers in run-down enclosures.
It was also alleged that when the animals die in the zoo, instead of a decent burial, they are taken off to a factory to make Chinese tiger bone wine. The drink is a sickly sweet 38 percent proof liquor. It is believed in China that such drink can improve sex drive.
While there is a ban on breeding tigers for their parts, it is alleged that the said zoo have the tigers boiled and their bones steeped in huge vats of rice wine of up to eight years to make the drink.
The drink is said to sell for hundreds of dollars per bottle in high-end hotels and flashy restaurants.