A zoo in Jamaica has issued a statement in response to a viral video that shows a man’s finger bitten by one of the facility’s lions.
The man, whose identity has not been revealed, is said to be a contractor for the Jamaica Zoo, which is located in the Burton District of Lacovia, Jamaica.
As shown in the viral clip, the contractor fits a part of his right hand through the galvanized chain link fence to pet a male African lion.
The contractor succeeds in petting the growling lion once, as onlookers watch and warn him to be careful.
But when he reached for the lion’s mane a second time, the lion bit the contractor’s middle finger — and held onto the appendage with his powerful jaw.
In a visible state of panic, the contractor repeatedly tries to pull his finger until the lion finally releases it.
The graphic and expletive-filled video seems to show that onlookers were in disbelief — and questioned whether the moment was real.
On Sunday, May 22, the Jamaica Zoo addressed the viral clip on Facebook and Instagram after the video circulated on those two social media platforms, among others.
“The actions displayed in the video by a contractor to Jamaica Zoo [are] tragic and do not represent the safety procedures and policies that must be adhered to at all times at Jamaica Zoo,” the zoo wrote.
“We are currently reviewing the video, with a view of preventing any future recurrences.”
The zoo continued, “It is an unfortunate event that should never have happened, and we, the family of Jamaica Zoo, are doing everything to assist the gentlemen in moving forward.”
The Jamaica Zoo’s statement says the facility wants to “reassure the public” that it is a “safe place” for families.
It also said the facility prides itself on providing “love, care and professional treatment” for its animals.
There are eight animal exhibits at the Jamaica Zoo, according to its website. The facility has swans, hummingbirds, African lions, bunnies, crocodiles, monkeys, scarlet macaw parrots and yellow-billed parrots.
Lions have a bite force that can range between 650 and 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi) depending on their age, size, gender and subspecies, according to A-Z Animals, an online animal encyclopedia.
Safety resources published by the CDC state that the public should refrain from touching and feeding wild animals, including those that are in zoos.
Supervised animal encounters with non-predatory animals might be an exception in some cases, but lions are generally not considered safe around untrained parties. Those who would like more information can consult the CDC’s “Animal Exhibit Visitors & Managers” webpage for more information.