Two lions have been shot dead and a man hit with a tranquilizer dart in a tragic occurrence at a zoo in Chile.
Franco Luis Ferrada, a 20-year-old man with mental health problems, climbed into a lion enclosure on a busy Saturday at Santiago’s Metropolitan Zoo in Chile. The witnesses said that the lions were not initially phased by the man entering their enclosure, so the man subsequently began stripping his clothes and provoking the lions.
The lions then began to attack the man in front of the visitors. Zookeepers initially tried to fend the lions away from the man by spraying them with a water hose, but to no avail. Tranquilizer guns were then brought out in an attempt to subdue the lions, but their shot only managed to hit Ferrada in the neck. In what appears to be somewhat of a panic, a zookeeper then proceeded to shoot both the lions dead with live shots.
Local news said Ferrada reportedly suffers from mental health problems and was found with a suicide note, according to The Guardian. The man is in critical condition from the lion attack and the lion-sized dose of tranquilizer he received.
Crowds gathered for a candlelight vigil for the male and female lion, and hundreds of Chileans took to social media to condemn the zoo’s actions, with many calling for a boycott of the zoo.
One Facebook user posted on the zoo’s profile: “Well done. You've gone completely against your oath to protect these endangered animals and caused uproar throughout the world. Truly disgusting and very sad.”
However, Alejandra Montalba, the zoo’s director, defended the zoo's actions. According to The Guardian, she said: “The zoo has an established protocol because people’s lives are very important to us."
She added: "The alarms sounded and chemical control arrived [tranquilizer darts] and an independent shooter arrived. The shooter decided to save the life of the person and unfortunately we had to sacrifice two members of our family."