A young boy was injured by a tiger at the Montekristo Zoo in Malta on Saturday; the story was covered by Malta Today on the same day. The 3-year-old child sustained very serious injuries, but is not in danger of dying, according to the report. At the time of the incident, the tiger was being walked on a leash through the park because he was sick. The small child approached the animal while he was lying down on the ground, and the encounter has not been called an “attack.”
The zoo, owned by the Palidano Brothers, has been highly criticized and denied permits by authorities, yet they have been allowed to continue operating. The Times of Malta interviewed the CEO of Montekristo Zoo, and he seemed to accept that all public venues needed to pay more attention to safety protocol. The fact that the zoo employees were walking a tiger amidst the public visiting the park is one obvious infraction on the part of the zoo. The tiger’s behavior is being described as playful not aggressive, and the boy did not receive any bite wounds. The tiger’s claws did enough damage, however, to require the small child to have surgery. Bystanders describe employees being called in to clean up the blood all over the ground.
This is just another in a string of recent reports of visitors to zoos who are injured by animals. Often the attacks are brought on by a visitor’s failure to adhere to the zoo’s boundaries and rules. In this case, regardless of what prompted the tiger to injure the child, the fault clearly lies with the zoo’s lax attention to safety. The government says it is taking the incident very seriously, and the Montekristo Zoo was already receiving fines for infractions involving cages and such on a daily basis.