Tiger mauls zoo owner to death in Italy

Rome, July 4 (IANS/AKI) A male tiger mauled to death his 72-year-old owner in a private zoo in Italy.

The six-year-old tiger attacked Mauro Lagiard when he opened its cage to feed the animal in the zoo near Turin city.

Lagiard's wife came to his aid and used two large sticks to force the tiger back into its cage before calling emergency services, but her husband had already died.

"The tiger pounced on Mauro from behind, sinking his claws into his shoulders and then began to maul him, it was quite dreadful," Lagiard's tearful 73-year-old wife, Carla Agosteo, told police.

Two years ago, Lagiard spent eight months in hospital after the same tiger attacked him when he opened its cage to feed the animal.

Lagiard's death was "a tragedy waiting to happen", said Anna Balangelo, mayor of San Pietro Val Lemina, where the couple's private zoo is located.

The nine tigers and a leopard kept by the couple are due to be transferred to a nearby safari park, after protests by local residents, officials and environmental groups.

The protests began three years ago when the zoo was evicted from a privately owned park, after complaints from residents who feared the animals could escape.

--IANS/AKI

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