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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Lion jailed for attacking tourists
Lion in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa
Locals want the lion to roam, like this one in Africa
A lion in a Chinese wild animal park is to be locked up for the rest of its life after injuring two tourists, the Shanghai Morning Post has reported.

The lion mauled a woman and her son who were throwing it hens from the open window of a bus.

Park keepers wanted to shoot the lion, but police refused to give permission after concerned locals pleaded for the lion's life.

But there is public anger that the lion has been locked up, while visitor security has not been improved.

Wuhan Forest Wild Animal Zoo, in China's central Hubei province, sells hens for $2.40 (20 yuan) each on its tourist buses and allows people to throw them to the lions. It is common practice in China, as a way to make money and create excitement.

Lion supporters

The condemned lion pounced on a boy on 6 October, the paper said, dragging him out of the bus window by his arm. He is being treated in hospital with head injuries.

The boy's mother was also injured as she tried to rescue her son, and she is now out of hospital.

Locals from Wuhan, the provincial capital, have been outraged at the lion's punishment, with many convinced the lion is innocent, the Shanghai paper said. Visitors have been going to the park to plead for mercy, it said.

Safety at Chinese zoos is lax and animals are often kept in poor conditions.

In another incident on Sunday, a Bengal tiger at a zoo in the south-western Chinese city of Kunming mauled a woman keeper to death, the China Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The tiger has been caged and is "waiting for the results of the investigation", the report said.

See also:

10 Apr 00 | Americas
Circus lions kill Brazilian boy
31 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
China backs panda charity
10 Jan 01 | Americas
In pictures: Pandas in Washington
06 May 99 | Asia-Pacific
China plans panda theme park
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