Rare white tiger kills zookeeper in Japan

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It’s not clear what triggered the white tiger’s attack (file photo)

A rare white tiger has mauled a zookeeper to death in its enclosure at a zoo in Japan, officials said.

The 40-year old man was found bleeding from the neck in the tiger’s cage. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

Officials believe he was attacked by one of the park’s four white tigers, media reports said.

The tiger was sedated with a tranquiliser before rescue workers and police arrived at the scene.

The attack took place late on Monday at the Hirakawa Zoological Park in the southern city of Kagoshima.

Police are now investigating how the zoo looks after its white tigers, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.

In 2017, a British zookeeper was killed by a tiger in its enclosure in a Cambridgeshire zoo while in Russia, a keeper survived a tiger attack in the city of Kaliningrad.

White tigers

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Image caption

White tigers are an endangered species

  • White tigers are a rare variant of the orange Bengal sub-species and owe their colour to a recessive gene
  • Today, they are exclusively in captive programmes where the limited numbers are interbred to maintain the distinctive fur colour
  • A number of the white tigers found in zoos have health issues, such as eyesight problems and deformities
  • The last known free-ranging white tiger is known to have been shot in 1958, before which sporadic sightings in the wild were made in India

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