A Jamaican zoo issued a statement after a video of a lion biting off a man’s finger went viral.
Jamaica Zoo Attractions said the man seen in the video was a “contractor.” The video was shared over the weekend and shows the incident at the facility in St. Elizabeth, a region in the southwest of the island.
“The actions depicted in a video by a Jamaica Zoo contractor are tragic and do not represent the procedures and safety policies that must be adhered to at all times at Jamaica Zoo,” said a statement from the zoo released on Sunday.
They added that they are investigating the incident in an effort to prevent similar things from happening in the future.
“This is an unfortunate event that should never have happened, and we, the Jamaica Zoo family, are doing everything we can to help the gentleman move forward. We hope you will continue to support Jamaica Zoo. We have always been and will continue to be a safe place for you and your families to visit us,” the statement said.
The video went viral on Twitter, having been viewed nearly 4 million times as of Monday morning after being posted on May 21.
The contractor put his finger through the cage as visitors recorded the episode on their mobile phones. The Jamaica Observer reported that around 15 people witnessed the incident, which took place around 4:22 p.m. on May 21.
The images show the man touching the lion as it roars and shows its teeth. When the lion bites the man’s finger, he provokes a fight while the contractor curses and tries to get the finger out of the lion’s mouth.
The man’s finger is eventually severed and he falls to the ground.
“When it happened, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think it was serious,” an unidentified visitor told the Jamaica Observer.
“I didn’t realize the seriousness of this, because it’s their job to put on a show,” he added. “Obviously when he hit the ground everyone realized it was serious. Everyone started to panic.”
“All the skin and about the first joint of his finger were gone,” the visitor said, according to the outlet. I ran away from everything because [no] I like it [ver] blood and it was too graphic for me.”
“Her facial expression as she walked was as if the pain had never manifested itself,” the viewer added.
The CEO of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) of Jamaica, Pamela Lawson, told the observer They would investigate the incident.
“We will go to the site and I will contact the NEPA (National Environmental and Planning Agency) which oversees the Jamaica Zoo,” he said.
“It’s just not common sense… There have been a lot of complaints about Jamaica Zoo,” he added, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “You keep kicking… After a while, it will turn around and bite you.”