An escaped tiger has bitten off a zoo keeper’s hand and attacked two others at a safari park near Tokyo.
The 10-year-old male Bengal was found roaming the Nasu Safari Park, based in the Tochigi prefecture, when staff were preparing to open at around 8.30am on Wednesday morning.
The 330lbs (150kg) beast, who measures around two metres (6.5 feet) in length, had not been properly fenced inside his enclosure the night before, Kyodo news agency reported.
When three members of staff returned the next morning, they happened upon the creature in a corridor leading to an exhibition area, and were savagely attacked.
One female worker, in her 20s, lost her hand and was taken to hospital by helicopter.
A second woman received several bites to her body while a male worker sustained injuries to the back of his head.
Both workers, also in their 20s, had to be taken to hospital.
The 10-year-old male Bengal was found roaming the Nasu Safari Park (pictured), based in the Tochigi prefecture, when staff were preparing to open at around 8.30am on Wednesday morning
The 330lbs (150kg) beast, who measures around two metres (6.5 feet) in length, had not been properly fenced inside his enclosure the night before, Kyodo news agency reported (file photo)
According to Kyodo, keepers did not properly check that the fence to the tiger’s cage was closed on Tuesday, after it had been led back inside once the exhibition was over.
The park closed for the day and police are now investigating to see if mismanagement played a part in the incident.
The fate of the tiger has not been reported.
The park’s latest tweet, posted on Wednesday, reads: ‘An accident has occurred in the tiger enclosure on the morning of January 5 and one worker has been injured.
‘We are currently confirming the condition of employees and we are investigating the cause of the accident.
‘We will tell you all more as soon as we understand the details.
‘For now, the park will remain closed.’
The Nasu Safari Park offers tours on specialised buses and for customers in their own cars to see its collection of around 700 animals including giraffes and elephants.
The park has had safety incidents before, including keepers being attacked by lions in 1997 and 2000, according to Kyodo.
The attack this week comes just days after a zoo keeper in Florida in the US was mauled by a tiger when he allegedly stuck his hand through the fence to pet it.
Graphic video from December 29 shows River Rosenquist, 26, of Naples, bloodied and on the ground at the Naples Zoo tiger enclosure as he screams out in pain: ‘Please help me! Please help me! Oh my God! Shoot it! I’m going to die!’
Collier County sheriff’s deputies tried kicking the enclosure, where Eko, an eight-year-old Malayan tiger, was housed, in an attempt to get the animal to free the worker.
Police body camera video shows the horrific moment a Florida cop shot and killed a tiger after it seized the arm of a zoo cleaner River Rosenquist, 26, who tried to pet and feed it
Eko (pictured), an eight-year-old Malayan tiger, was killed Wednesday night after a deputy struck him with a single shot
After an unsuccessful attempt, the deputy – believing he had no other options – fired a single shot at the tiger in an attempt to save Mr Rosenquist’s life.
Eko could be heart grunting around the time the fatal shot was fired, then retreated to the rear of the enclosure where he died.
Deputies were called to the zoo around 6.26pm last Wednesday after Mr Rosenquist allegedly violated the park’s rules by entering the tiger enclosure.
Preliminary investigations revealed he was supposed to be cleaning the restrooms and gift shop when he decided to enter an unauthorised area of the tiger enclosure and stuck his hand through.
He appeared to be either petting or feeding the tiger, both of which police said were ‘unauthorised and dangerous activities’.
Eko then believed to have grabbed his arm and attempted to pull him into the enclosure, prompting authorities authorities to step in.
‘Our deputy did everything he could do in that situation and he ultimately made the only possible decision he could in order to save this man’s life,’ Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said in a press release.
‘This was a tragic encounter at our world-class zoo facility. We value our community partnership with the Naples Zoo and their focus on conservation and education.’
Mr Rosenquist may now face criminal charges.