Categories: Zoos

New South Wales: two lions maul female zookeeper. Fate of lions to be decided.

This is another story of a zookeeper being attacked by a lion or lions and suffering severe injuries. In this instance it took place at Shoalhaven Zoo in New South Wales, Australia. Jennifer Brown, 35, was cleaning the lions’ cage when they attacked her. She is in a serious condition in hospital. An investigation has been launched to figure out what happened. The fate of the lions i.e. whether they’re going to be shot dead or allowed to live is in the hands of the zoo’s owner (and perhaps the authorities) and has yet to be decided.

Ariel and Juda the lions who attacked Brown

I’d like to comment on this. My comments are going to be based on common sense. It is surely inconceivable that you can blame the lions for attacking the zookeeper as they are known predators. They are big animals and they kill prey animals far larger than a human. It is entirely to be expected that a lion will attack a zookeeper if they are in a cage with the animal. An attack is foreseeable. It is impossible, in my view, to consider euthanising the lions because if there is fault to be found it has to be found either in the practices and policies of the zoo or in the actions and behaviour of this particular zookeeper.

Jennifer Brown

For example, why was she in an enclosure with two lions alone? Apparently she was cleaning the cage when Ariel and Juda attacked. The management is examining whether there should have been two staff members present when she was in the cage cleaning it.

This is obviously not a time to criticise Jennifer Brown because the focus must be on her recovery. She loved the big cats and I’m sure that she is a very nice and decent person who enjoys her work tremendously. To the best of my knowledge, all zoos have very strict procedures on how zookeepers should interact with large predators. The question is did Jennifer comply with the regulations.

The fact that she was in a cage with the lions alone and was attacked by them strongly indicates (without being critical) that either the procedures were wrong or she was doing the wrong thing. The lions cannot be blamed for the attack. They are behaving instinctively. That’s obvious. This is nothing to do with the captive lions. This is everything to do with you procedures and the zookeepers actions. Don’t harm the lions, therefore please.

If they are killed for doing nothing wrong it will be a political or public relations decision to quell criticism of the zoo for allowing one of their staff to be harmed while at work. The place or procedures were unsafe unless Jeniffer for some inexplicable reason failed to follow them.


Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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