Shoalhaven zoo lions to be spared after attack on keeper

Naomi Ackerman
Shoalhaven Zoo

A pair of young lions who attacked an Australian zookeeper leaving her with critical injuries are to be spared, the zoo has announced.

The keeper, named locally as Jennifer Brown, 35, was cleaning the animals' enclosure at Shoalhaven Zoo on May 29 when she was mauled.

The incident left Ms Brown fighting for her life with head, neck and facial injuries.

Paramedics reported finding the keeper unconscious, and she was airlifted to hospital in Sydney in critical condition. She has since regained consciousness, but remains in hospital.

The zoo, situated around 90 miles south of Sydney, is now going through a health and safety investigation.

Australian media have reported wide-spread concern over the future of the animals over the past week, with thousands calling for them to be spared.

Zoo owner, Nicholas Schilko, said he is in "constant touch" with Ms Brown and her family, and has now released a statement clarifying the lions' future.

It read: "The lions involved in the incident will not be euthanased, and the care and welfare of all the zoo's animals remained a top priority.

"I can say that Jen knows these lions, who are 18 months old, very well and has a history of positive interaction with them... The keepers who went to her aid indicated that the two young lions showed no aggression, but it's tragic that this interaction has resulted in serious lacerations to their keeper."

Staff at the zoo, which has been closed since late March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are being provided with emotional support.

It is not the first time Shoalhaven has seen a handler injured by an animal.

In 2014, an employee was dragged into water in an enclosure by a crocodile while giving a presentation to visitors. He survived with injuries to his hands.

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