A zookeeper in Jamaica recently pulled a stunt so dangerous, it could have cost him his life – and the life of the poor, captive lion he decided to taunt. Viral footage taken by members of a tour group shows the employee teasing an imprisoned lion at the Jamaica Zoo in St. Elizabeth. As the zookeeper repeatedly puts his hand through the fence of the enclosure, the lion is clearly distressed, snapping and snarling at the stressful invasion of his space. And then, one snap turned the stunt into a very real emergency – the lion clamped down on the zookeeper's finger.
The zookeeper will recover, but now this lion could be deemed a threat to humans through no fault of his own. We've seen this happen before -- like the tiger who was shot to death in a Florida zoo this year after grabbing a man who was foolish enough to reach his arm into the animal's enclosure. This poor lion must be sent to a sanctuary, far from irresponsible "caretakers" like this. Sign to demand that things change at the Jamaica Zoo so this never happens again!
This careless zookeeper carelessly antagonized the lion he was supposed to be protecting and educating visitors about. Instead of treating a wild animal with the respect and care – an animal that did not choose to be imprisoned in the first place – this zookeeper and the Jamaica Zoo treated him like a pawn in a game.
Male lions can grow as large as 550 pounds and 10 feet long. Why this zookeeper would treat such a massive, wild, naturally predatory animal like a housecat is beyond comprehension. The stress and anxiety this lion felt while he was poked, prodded, and taunted must have been unbearable. It's a miracle it did not do more harm to itself or the people around its enclosure.
Zoos are highly controversial establishments – while they can play a vital role in animal conservation and research, their capacity for abuse and exploitation is extremely high. Whenever animals are put on display for human enjoyment and gain, there must be extreme measures in place to keep them safe. Jamaica's National Environment and Planning Agency has oversight over this zoo, and must exercise its power in order to protect the animals held there, the workers employed there, and the visitors who are there to admire and learn.
Luckily, the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating this incident, meaning the poor lion has advocates on its side. But the truth is, this could happen again with other animals at the zoo unless action is taken!
Sign the petition demanding that the National Environment and Planning agency step in! Along with this zookeeper being fired and the lion being sent to a sanctuary, Jamaica Zoo's protocols, policies, trainings, and enclosures must be updated so that other animals there are kept safe!