Lifestyle & Human Interest

Zookeeper Mauled by Two Lions in 'Extremely Vicious' Attack


The circus. The zoo. Wild animal parks. They all boast creatures that you don’t see every day, especially the more rare and dangerous sorts.

Lions, tigers and bears are all fascinating animals that are irrisitible to us, in part, because of how powerful they are. And no matter how long they’ve been around people, they still can — and do — lash out at times, with devastating consequences.

This particular case involved an experienced caretaker. Jennifer Brown, 35, has been with the Shoalhaven Zoo in North Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, since 2013.

A fan of the big cats, Brown was cleaning a lion enclosure on Friday when two young male lions, that turned one in October, attacked her.

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Ariel and Juda, the lions, bit her head and neck, and two other employees managed to secure them while emergency backup was called for. According to the Daily Mail, Brown was unconscious by the time help arrived.

One of the first responders, NSW Ambulance duty operations manager Inspector Faye Stockmen said the scene was grisly, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

“This is one of the worst jobs I have ever experienced — I have never come across a job like this in my career,” Stockmen said.

“It was absolutely harrowing. It is an incredibly dangerous situation, both for the patient and the paramedics.”

“Being the first to walk into the enclosure was one of the most frightening experiences – we literally had to walk into a lions’ den.”

“The attack was extremely vicious and paramedics found the woman with severe injuries.”

The family-owned and operated zoo has posted to thank people for their prayers and the first responders for their assistance. Brown was reported as being taken to the hospital in critical but stable condition.

“To all our friends, family and extended zoo family who have sent well wishes and prayers,” the Shoalhaven Zoo shared on May 29. “It is hard to get back to each of you individually but we would like to let you know we appreciate and are thankful for all your love and offers of help.”

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“To the emergencey services who were involved today we are thankful for your response of skill, compassion & care for Jen and the zoo team. At this point in time our only concerns are for Jen and her recovery. We ask that you continue to pray for her and her family.”

Now the question being asked is, will Ariel and Juda remain at the zoo or will they be put down? An attack is a serious thing, and once a big cat attacks there’s no telling if it will do so again.

“At this stage, we are looking into what has occurred and then a decision will be made once the investigation has been complete,” South Coast Police District Commander Detective Superintendent Greg Moore said.

“Understandably, it has had a big impact on the staff — it is a small zoo and the staff are very tight-knit.”

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