A 23-year-old man died in a Michoacán hospital Tuesday two days after being attacked by a Bengal tiger.
The man, identified only as José de Jesús, was bitten on both arms Sunday by a privately owned tiger he cared for in Peribán, a municipality on the border with Jalisco.
Video footage shows the man putting his hand through an enclosure and briefly patting the tiger before the attack occurred. He was using his other hand, which is not visible in the footage, to feed the feline.
José de Jesús was taken to a local hospital for treatment but was subsequently transferred to Morelia, where he died on Tuesday afternoon. According to an El Universal newspaper report, the tiger keeper refused to allow his arms to be amputated and his health consequently deteriorated. The man had diabetes and that disease, coupled with his injuries, caused him to have a fatal heart attack.
The owner of the tiger, as well as other exotic pets, including a lion, said that he has the appropriate permits to keep the animals. He also said that he covered his employee’s medical costs. But the newspaper La Voz de Michoacán reported on Wednesday that the federal environmental agency Profepa had found that the tiger was being kept improperly in a mesh netting cage. Authorities have contacted the Benito Juárez Zoological Park in Morelia about the possibility of taking custody of the animal, the director of the park told the newspaper.
“This type of species is always easier to get on the black market,” zoo director Julio César Medina Ávila said. “I don’t know if this was the case; Profepa and the [state] Attorney General’s office need to determine that. They’ve gotten in touch with me to find out if we can receive [the tiger] after Profepa’s investigation or if [the owners] don’t have the proper permits.”
It was at least the second incident in the Mexican news this week involving a Bengal tiger: in Tecuala, Nayarit, a cell phone video that caused a stir on social media showed a tiger briefly wandering a residential neighborhood before it was captured by a youth who put a rope around its neck.
The animal appeared to have escaped from a house, according to witnesses, who told El Universal that the animal had escaped confinement previously.