Zookeepers shoot man with tranquiliser while trying to save him from lions

A man who climbed into a lion enclosure, stripped naked and taunted them into attacking him was shot with a tranquiliser dart by zookeepers trying to save him from a near-fatal mauling.

Visitors to Santiago’s Metropolitan Zoo in Chile watched aghast as staff eventually shot and killed two of the lions with live ammunition. The man had been carrying what appeared to be a suicide note, authorities said.

The drama began on Saturday morning when Franco Luis Ferrada, 20, climbed atop the roof of the lion pen, then forced his way into the cage. According to witnesses the lions initially ignored the intrusion but attacked after Ferrada taunted them.

Zookeepers responded at first by turning a hose on the animals, then by firing a tranquiliser dart – but hit the man in the neck instead of the lions. As the lions set upon the man, a zookeeper opened fire with live rounds. The two beloved animals died in front of a horrified and massive holiday crowd.