A tiger has been shot dead after a man who climbed a fence into the tiger enclosure to avoid paying for a ticket was mauled to death at a zoo in eastern China.
The attack was captured on camera and shared on social media, with one video showing a tiger gnawing on the man’s body as people screamed.
A local government statement said the victim, identified only by his surname of Zhang, climbed a fence with a friend instead of buying tickets, at the Ningbo Youngor Zoo in Zhejiang province on Saturday.
The statement said Zhang’s wife and two children, and his friend’s wife, bought tickets to enter the zoo. They cost 130 yuan ($A25) for adults and 70 yuan ($A13.50) for children.
But Zhang, described as an “underprivileged employee”, allegedly passed through a wire netting and eventually climbed a wall to enter the tiger enclosure while his friend stayed back, the statement said.
A tiger attacked him inside the enclosure, as visitors to the park watched from a distance.
Photos and video shared on social media show Zhang lying on the ground as tigers circle him.
The South China Morning Post says one tiger was shot and killed while zoo staff tried various methods to save the man, including setting off firecrackers to drive it and its companions away.
Zhang died later in hospital.
Incident draws ire of PETA, social media users
The incident drew criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which said it reflected the problems of keeping tigers and other large cats in captivity.
“Attacks by captive big cats on people — which occur with staggering regularity — illustrate the profound level of stress, anxiety and agitation these animals experience every day of their lives,” said vice president of international campaigns, Jason Baker.
Many on Chinese social media protested the tiger’s killing and condemned the man for entering the enclosure.
“This visitor’s death by mauling really does not deserve any sympathy,” one user on microblogging site Weibo wrote, according to the BBC.
Damn fool caused a tiger death! / Tigers maul man to death at Ningbo Younger Zoo in China in shock video | Daily Sta https://t.co/1XBnfintnl
— 🔴R🔴E🔴D🔴 (@MUFCRedYank) January 30, 2017
“Tigers are the carnivorous kings of the jungle and hunting for food is their instinct, who can you blame if you jump in and get attacked? Rest in peace, tiger.”
It is not the first time such an incident has occurred in China — two women were attacked by Siberian tigers in July when they got out of their vehicle at a Beijing safari park.
One woman was killed, and the other was seriously injured.
The park was closed to visitors after Saturday’s attack and remained closed on Monday, state television reported, and the death is under investigation by local authorities.