AN LION has savagely killed an experienced zookeeper after dragging the worker into a cage at a Japanese safari park.
The veteran employee, Kenichi Kato, had been transferring the lion when it slipped through an open cage door.
Emergency services rushed to the scene after it was reported a worker had "collapsed" in an enclosure after suffering a bite to the neck.
The park, in Fukushima, said it will remain closed for a while "until safety measures are improved."
A spokesman said: "It is believed that he was feeding a lion."
Kato was reportedly luring the lion using food, but may have forgotten to lock a door that should have separated him from the beast.
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Vice president of the park Norichika Kumakubo said: "The process is that we open the door, and place the food. Once the food is placed, the door is to be closed and locked."
Earlier this year, a zookeeper in Uzbekistan forgot to close a gate and was mauled to death by a brown bear.
Distressing footage shows the zoo worker suddenly realised the bear is right behind him as a gate had not been secured.
He was seen on the security camera footage attempting to step around the predator in a frantic bid to get to the escape door.
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Just several feet away from safety, he tried to run but the bear pounced on him.
In 2018, zookeeper Akira Furusho was attacked by rare white tigers and died after also suffering a bite to the neck.
It comes after keeper at a private zoo was fatally savaged when he put his hand through a fence to stroke a tiger during feeding time.
Horrific footage of the attack showed the big cat sinking its claws into his hand and pulling his arm into its mouth.
Meanwhile, another video showed a lion biting off a zookeeper's finger when he stuck his hand into its cage.
Terrified visitors watched in horror as the man desperately pulled his hand away to free himself at Jamaica Zoo.
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