An unidentified young woman died instantly after a tiger mauled her neck at a safari park near Santiago, Chile.
The woman was an employee at the safari park in Rancagua, about 60 miles south of Santiago. She had been working in the big cat area of the park, performing routine maintenance, when the tiger attacked her.
Someone had left the door of the tiger’s enclosure open, and authorities are investigating third-party culpability for the death, Reuters reports.
Tiger Attack Shuts Down Safari Park
At the safari park, animals roam freely as visitors drive through their designated areas. Promotional pictures from the park show adult lions standing on top of the trucks used to drive visitors through the park.
However, when employees are cleaning out the animals’ areas, the animals are supposed to be kept in caged enclosures. That was not the case on Friday, police said.
“She did not realize that the door of the animal’s cage was open and was immediately attacked by this tiger, causing her death on the spot,” said William Espinoza of the Rancagua police force, per Reuters.
The safari park remained closed in the wake of the incident. Police investigations are ongoing.
The tiger’s condition is unknown.
Tigers Usually Hunt at Night
Tigers are the biggest cat species in the world, and they are skilled hunters. They use stealth and brute force to subdue their prey.
According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, the animal can eat as much as 75 pounds of meat in one night. The animals usually hunt once a week, typically at night, and they often go after the neck of their target.
In the wild, tigers eat smaller animals like wild boar and deer, but they’ve also been known to eat buffalo and leopards. When they live near humans, they tend to eat people’s cattle and goats.
These big cats reach independence at about 2 to 3 years old, after which point they live a largely solitary existence. Females usually stay near their mother’s turf while males stray farther afield. Tigers are highly territorial and have been known to kill one another over territory.
Most tigers live 10 to 15 years in the wild, but when protected by humans, they can live to as old as 20 years. Unfortunately for tigers, only half of wild tiger cubs make it to adulthood. And three of the nine total subspecies of these animals are now extinct.