A 350-pound tiger ate most of a zookeeper’s right arm in a bloody mauling, according to a witness to the San Francisco Zoo attack that has kept its victim hospitalized for more than a week.
The zoo has not released the keeper’s name or the extent of her injuries at her family’s request. But Vikram Chari, 40, a business owner from San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle he and his 6-year-old son witnessed the Dec. 22 attack from a few feet away.
“The tiger ate her hand. It slowly proceeded to eat the rest of her arm,” Chari said.
Three men tried to yank the keeper from the 3-year-old female Siberian tiger’s grip, but the tiger did not let go until a zoo employee jabbed her in the head with a long pole, he said.
“I think most of the right arm doesn’t exist anymore,” Chari said. “What was left was hanging in strings.”
The attack happened as the keeper fed the tiger through a slot during a regular afternoon feeding. The victim, who has worked at the zoo since 1997, remained in San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday.
The tiger, named Tatiana, was still on display at the zoo’s outdoor big cat exhibit along with other lions and tigers. The indoor facility where the mauling occurred, called the Lion House, has been closed since the attack.
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