Payback: lion-teaser scratched after years of taunts
EVERY day for three years, an elderly man would perform his morning exercises, then go to the zoo and stick his leg between the bars of the lion compound, waggling his limb to tease the animals.
Yesterday, he finally got scratched.
One of the four African lions at the Shanghai Zoo found the temptation too great and scratched the foot of the man surnamed Yang.
Doctors said the injuries were not serious and vaccinated Yang who will need five rabies injections.
The naughty citizen admitted it was his own fault that he got hurt as he "volunteered to play with the lion in dangerous way, which violated zoo safety regulations."
Yang told reporters he got into the habit of having fun with the big wild cats, which live in the hilly Mountain Lion section of the zoo. He would put his leg between the 6-meter-high railing bars and move it around.
He admitted he had been teasing the lions – one male and three females – for three years but had never been hurt.
"However, when I stretched my leg in today, it suddenly became violent, sprang towards me and scratched my right heel," Yang said.
At first, he didn’t pay much attention to the injury; he applied antiseptic to the wounds by himself.
"But it kept bleeding so I had to go to the hospital," he said.
Yang went to the Changning District Central Hospital two hours after the incident. Doctors sterilized and bandaged the wounds and gave him his first rabies shot.
There were three scratches about 10 centimeters in length and 1 centimeter in depth, said a doctor surnamed Guo.
Shanghai Zoo officials telephoned the elderly victim to express sympathy and promised to improve security facility to avoid similar cases in the future.
"Though the zoo is not to blame for this accident, this still matters a lot – it showed the security needs improving," said Xiong Chengpei, director of the zoo.
The lion area was set up 40 years ago and no one has been injured, he said.
Xiong said he would visit Yang and seek his advice on upgrading security.
Warning signs are posted on the compound.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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