United Kingdom

Owner of zoo where lions mauled zookeeper says the fate of the two big cats is still to be decided

The decision on the fate of two lions that viciously mauled a female zookeeper has been deferred as she fights for life in hospital.

Jennifer Brown, 35, was cleaning the cage when the lions, Ariel and Juda, attacked her head and neck at Shoalhaven Zoo, in North Nowra, New South Wales, on Friday.

An investigation has been launched by police and SafeWork NSW to determine the circumstances that lead to the attack.

The decision on the fate of two lions, brothers Ariel and Juda (pictured), that viciously mauled a female zookeeper has been deferred as she fights for life in hospital

Jennifer Brown, 35, was cleaning the cage when the lions, Ariel and Juda, attacked her head and neck at Shoalhaven Zoo, in North Nowra, New South Wales, on Friday 

Investigators are looking at why Ms Brown was alone in the lion cage before she was mauled.

The zoo announced it is now deferring the decision on what will happen to the two lions until her condition in hospital improves.

Owner Nick Schilko told ABC the zoo is planning on releasing a statement in the coming days as he is still trying to 'piece a whole lot of things together'.

'I want to wait on Jen's recovery,' he said.

Detective Inspector Scott Nelson on Tuesday said there has been no decision in consultation with the zoo to have the lions put down.

Two colleagues ran into the enclosure to secure the lions and save an unconscious Ms Brown on Friday morning. 

Emergency services were called to the zoo at 10.30am on Friday with four ambulance crews and a rescue helicopter rushing to treat her.

Ms Brown (pictured, working with lions) is a dedicated big cat expert at Shoalhaven Zoo

Jennifer Brown (pictured), 35, was cleaning the cage when the lions, Ariel and Juda, attacked her head and neck at Shoalhaven Zoo, in North Nowra, New South Wales, on Friday

Paramedics worked on Ms Brown for more than two hours before she was airlifted to St George Private Hospital where she remains in a critical but stable condition.

She had been working at the park since 2013 and had previously said she had a special place in her heart for 'big cats'.

The investigation will look at protocols for cleaning cages and procedures in place for dealing with dangerous animals.

It will also examine whether two staff members should have been present when Ms Brown was cleaning the enclosure.

NSW Ambulance duty operations manager, Faye Stockmen, said: 'This is one of the worst jobs I have ever experienced - I have never come across a job like this in my career.'

'The attack was extremely vicious and paramedics found the woman with severe injuries.

'It was absolutely harrowing. It is an incredibly dangerous situations, both for the patient and the paramedics,' he said.

The lion attack left Ms Brown in a critical condition with severe head and neck injuries 

The Shoalhaven Zoo made an emotional Facebook post thanking emergency services for their support on Friday

Paramedics described the rescue operation as 'the worst they'd experienced'

The Shoalhaven Zoo, which has been closed since late March due to coronavirus restrictions, made an emotional Facebook post thanking emergency services for their support.

'To all our friends, family and extended zoo family who have sent well wishes and prayers.

'To the emergency services who were involved today we are thankful for your response of skill, compassion & care for Jen and the zoo team.'

Shoalhaven Zoo went on to say it was focusing its energy on providing support to Ms Brown.

'At this point in time our only concerns are for Jen and her recovery. We ask that you continue to pray for her and her family.'

Daily Mail Australia contacted Shoalhaven Zoo who said they are not commenting on the incident at this time.  

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