WATCH: Zookeeper Makes Huge Mistake Sticking His Fingers Into Lion’s Cage

by Amy Myers

We’re all familiar with the phrase “Don’t poke the bear.” Well, here’s a new one: “Don’t tease the caged lion.” Unfortunately, a Jamaican zookeeper had to learn this painful lesson first-hand when he decided to stick his fingers through the wild animal’s pen to demonstrate his skills as a lion tamer. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well.

Recently, a video surfaced of a zookeeper at the Jamaica Zoo in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica giving a group of visitors a tour of the property. The man stopped at the lion’s cage that already appeared to be agitated by the presence of so many people around its home in captivity. Clearly, this was no cowardly lion.

The lion gave proper warning to the zookeeper that it was in no mood for tricks, snarling and growling all the while. But the man went forward with antics, putting his fingers in the lion’s mouth and pulling them back when it tried to bite down, then clapping to bring the animal back to the fence line.

This parlor trick worked the first few times – until it didn’t. Sure enough, the irritated lion clamped down on the zookeeper’s finger.

Take a look.

Zookeeper Has to Brace Himself Against Cage to Escape Lion’s Jaws

Once the lion got a hold of the zookeeper, it wasn’t planning on letting go. In fact, the man even had to brace his feet against the cage to yank what was left of his finger out. He fell to the ground, gushing blood from his hand.

Meanwhile, the tour group wasn’t sure if this was real or just part of the act.

“When it happened, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t think it was serious,” an unnamed female visitor told the Jamaica Observer.

“I didn’t realize the seriousness of it because it’s their job to put on a show,” she continued. “Obviously, when he fell on the ground, everybody realized that it was serious. Everybody started to panic.”

When reality set in, the group realized just how close the man was to losing his entire hand.

“The entire skin and about the first joint of his finger was gone,” the woman shared.

Apparently, the scene became too gruesome for several of the visitors to stick around. However, she did manage to see his facial expression, which was “like the pain never kicked in.”

Even more alarming was the fact that neither zoo officials nor local police knew of the incident when the story broke headlines. Now, though, Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is currently investigating the incident.

“We will be going down there, and I will be communicating with the National Environment and Planning Agency, who has oversight over Jamaica Zoo,” said the head of the agency, Pamela Lawson.