A ZOOKEEPER is fighting for her life after being bitten multiple times by two lions in an “extremely vicious” attack at a zoo in New South Wales, Australia.
Two ambulance crews and a specialist medical team had to “walk into a lion’s den” to treat the injured woman at Shoalhaven Zoo in North Nowra.
An ambulance spokesman told news.com.au they were called just before 10.20am to treat the victim “bitten on the head and neck region” following reports of an “animal attack”.
NSW Police Superintendent Greg Moore said the 35-year-old woman was “set upon” by the two lions while tending to some cleaning duties inside the enclosure.
“I'll take this opportunity to commend the two zoo staff that reacted to the incident and were able to secure the lions and support their colleague,” he told reporters in Nowra.
Supt Moore said he understands it “would not be normal practice” for someone to enter the enclosure while the lions were outside a particular area.
In an update on Friday afternoon, NSW Ambulance said the keeper had “a number of lacerations and bites”.
This is one of the worst jobs I have ever experienced – I have never come across a job like this in my career.Inspector Faye Stockman
She was taken by ambulance to meet a helicopter and then flown to St George Hospital in a critical but stable condition.
Her family members have been notified.
“This is one of the worst jobs I have ever experienced – I have never come across a job like this in my career,” Inspector Faye Stockman said.
“It was absolutely harrowing.
“It is an incredibly dangerous situation, both for the patient and the paramedics.
“Being the first to walk into the enclosure was one of the most frightening experiences – we literally had to walk into a lion’s den.
“The attack was extremely vicious and paramedics found the woman with severe injuries.
“We are trained to deal with extreme or unusual situations, however, we do have support services available to us.”
Police earlier said they were called to the zoo just before 10.30am “following reports a zookeeper had been attacked by a lion” and was suffering “serious head and neck injuries”.
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NSW Ambulance earlier told the South Coast News crews were responding to reports of an “unconscious zookeeper in the lion enclosure”.
She was reportedly comforted by two of her colleagues who helped to secure the lions.
A spokeswoman for the zoo told news.com.au on Friday afternoon no comment was being made about the situation at this time.
South Coast Police District officers have established a crime scene and are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Supt Moore said they will be working with relevant authorities regarding the future of the two lions involved.
SafeWork NSW was also notified.