ST ELIZABETH, Jamaica — Visitors at Jamaica Zoo were on Friday left in shock after witnessing a zoo attendant’s finger being severed by a lion at the St Elizabeth-based attraction.
The incident, which was captured on video has since gone viral on social media.
One of the visitors who asked not to be named told OBSERVER ONLINE that the incident unfolded about 4:22 pm in front of at least 15 people.
She said the tour of the zoo was coming to an end when the zoo attendant in an apparent effort to impress visitors, attempted to pet the lion.
The man’s right ring finger was reportedly partially bitten off after he stuck his hand through the chain-linked lion’s cage.
“When it happened, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think it was serious. I didn’t realise the seriousness of it, because it’s their job to put on a show,” she said.
“Obviously, when he fell on the ground everybody realised that it was serious. Everybody started to panic,” she added.
The man screamed expletives as he wrestled to get his finger free from the lion’s mouth.
The visitor said the incident left some people including herself stunned.
“The entire skin and about the first joint of his finger was gone,” she said.
“I ran away from the whole thing, because me nuh like see blood and it was too graphic for me,” she added.
The injured zoo attendant reportedly got up and walked to a vehicle before leaving the facility.
“His facial expression when he was walking is like the pain never kicked in,” said the visitor.
Located close to Lacovia, west of Santa Cruz, the attraction has a wide range of animals including llama, zebras, monkeys, crocodiles and toucans.
When contacted mid-afternoon on Saturday, a representative at the zoo said she was not aware of the incident.
When contacted a senior police source said they were not aware of the incident.
Managing director at the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Pamela Lawson said she would be looking into the incident.
“We will be going down there and I will be communicating with the National Environment and Planning Agency who has oversight over Jamaica Zoo,” she said.