Zookeeper Jennifer Brown was cleaning the lions' cage this morning when tragedy struck. Staff at Shoalhaven Zoo in North Nowra, New South Wales, Australia had to jump in to save her life when two young lions started mauling her. Brown was airlifted to a hospital where she is under treatment. The fate of the lions involved is yet to be decided.

The family-owned zoo at the south of Sydney had been closed since the COVID-19 lockdown. However, the dedicated staff have been continuously caring for the animals at the zoo. As a part of the maintenance process, Brown had been cleaning the enclosure of the young male lions, Ariel and Juda.

Just months after the zoo shared the lions' birthday celebration with their followers on Instagram, they pounced on their carer. When the two big cats started tearing into Brown, two of her colleagues bravely entered the enclosure to save her. They managed to disengage the lions before distancing them from the victim.

New South Wales ambulance service confirmed that they responded to the call from the zoo at 10:20 am local time today. Multiple ambulances and paramedics arrived at the scene. Paramedics told The South Coast Register that they were shocked at the extent of injuries Brown had sustained. She had deep lacerations to her face and neck.

According to The Daily Mail, paramedics worked on Brown for over two hours to stabilise her condition. She was finally airlifted to Saint George Hospital for further treatment. Her condition remains critical at the hospital.

South Coast Police District officers have established a crime scene. The incident will be investigated by the police. Detective Superintendent Greg Moore stated that the zoo has been asked to improve safety protocols. He also emphasised that the actions of the 35-year-old zookeeper's colleagues helped save her life. Moore did not confirm if the zoo would be putting down the two offending animals.

This attack was not the first for the zoo. A zookeeper had a near-death experience in 2014 when he was attacked by a crocodile. The 3.7-meter-long reptile had latched onto Trent Burton's hand and dragged him into the water. Burton managed to break free from the animal and swim to safety. He was treated at Shoalhaven District Hospital where he made a full recovery.

circus lions Peru South Africa
Two lions mauled zookeeper at a zoo in Australia. (representational image) Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters