A female zookeeper is fighting for her life in hospital after an “extremely vicious” lion attack at an Australian zoo on Friday morning.
The 35-year-old was cleaning a lion enclosure at Shoalhaven Zoo in New South Wales when two lions attacked her, resulting in lacerations and bites to her head and neck.
“A 35-year-old woman was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics for head and neck injuries, before being airlifted to St George Hospital in a critical but stable condition,” read a statement from NSW Police.
“Police have been told the woman was cleaning the enclosure at the time.
“Officers from South Coast Police District established a crime scene and commenced inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident. SafeWork NSW have been notified.”
Inspector Faye Stockmen, Duty Operations Manager, NSW Ambulance, said the situation was “absolutely harrowing”.
″This is one of the worst jobs I have ever experienced – I have never come across a job like this in my career,” she said in a statement to HuffPost Australia.
“It was absolutely harrowing. It is an incredibly dangerous situations, both for the patient and the paramedics. Being the first to walk into the enclosure was one of the most frightening experiences – we literally had to walk into a lion’s den.”
“The attack was extremely vicious and paramedics found the woman with severe injuries.”
“We are trained to deal with extreme or unusual situations, however, we do have support services available to us.”
Shoalhaven Zoo has been closed since March 25 due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to its website.
In a separate statement on its Facebook page, the zoo said: “While we are closed to the public we as a family will continue to live onsite and have key staff coming in to help us ensure the safety & well being, cleaning & feeding of all our animals”.
Shoalhaven Zoo did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.