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18 Worst Things That Ever Happened At The Zoo
Dec 22, 2016

18 Worst Things That Ever Happened At The Zoo

Taking the family to the local zoo sounds like fun. No one laughs when the situation turns into the real-life equivalent of “The Planet of the Apes.”

From gorillas smashing kids to tigers savoring human meat, we have everything bad that ever happened at the zoo. Let’s not forget the orca that went on a killing spree!


1. Karate Enthusiast Receives Darwin Award For Jumping In The Lions’ Den

Karate Enthusiast Receives Darwin Award In The Lion's Den
via Pixabay

A karate master once finished a course by saying “you are strong enough to kill animals with your bare hands.” One student of him took the words for granted.

32-year-old Mr. Ellie broke into the Melbourne Zoo in the middle of the night and went straight into the lions’ den. He was so confident in the recently acquired karate skills that he forgot who is king of the animal world.

It is pointless to say it did not end well for him. Zookeepers found only his hands, enough to serve identification purposes. In honor of his act of courage, they gave him a postmortem Darwin Award.

Now that we got you started, it’s time to go through the worst incidents happening at the zoo in recent times.

2. Harambe Gets Shot And Becomes An Internet Martyr

Harambe Gets Shot And Becomes An Internet Martyr
via Cincinnati Zoo

The killing of Harambe is by far the most viral killing that ever happened at the zoo.

The story is simple. A 3-year-old fell in the Gorilla World habitat and attracted Harambe’s attention. The 200 kg male dragged the defenseless toddler through the stream before they put him down.

It is safe to say that the zealous zookeeper did more than to shoot Harambe, one day after his 17th birthday. He practically divided the Internet in two, pushing people to choose sides in a fierce clash of arguments.

Even now, most people believe that the Cincinnati Zoo incident could have been avoided. While rabid fans turned Harambe into a martyr, a victim of other’s negligence, one thing is for sure. Visitors should remember that despite the fences, cages, and other safety features, any visit to the Zoo can turn nasty.

Not only kids put themselves in harm’s way and end up startling animals. Some adults make us wonder if we are truly the superior species here.

3. Depressed Woman Narrowly Survives A Polar Bear Attack

Idiotic Woman Narrowly Survives A Polar Bear Attack
via The Guardian

The zoo is no place to take your problems!

We don’t doubt that animals are good listeners, but disturbing them while they eat never ends well. A 32-year-old woman leaped over the bars at Berlin Zoo, just to be closer to the polar bears she had always admired.

The depressed woman was bitten several times before the staff could retrieve her back to safety. The good part is that there is a footage of the whole deal and that someone took sharp photos depicting the scramble.

Most shocking is the fact that the polar bears continued to play with the woman’s cardigan just after she left their enclosure. Fat and juicy, she would have been a welcomed changed of diet.

You’d better send the kids away for the next incident. Also, you could easily skip #4 if you just ate.

4. Animals Released From A Private Zoo Are Slaughtered Downtown

Animals Released From A Private Zoo Are Slaughtered Downtown
via The Columbus Dispatch

Big cats on the loose, and everything ended with a mass killing.

That is how most news bulletins started covering the story of the Zanesville massacre. It all began when a man set loose his entire private collection of wild animals. Terry Thompson was depressed and committed suicide just minutes after acting savior with the captive animals.

The town of Zanesville, Ohio became the scene of an incredible hunt. The National Guard intervened to prevent the wild beasts from hurting the population.

The carnage that followed meant that 49 animals were slaughtered, including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzlies, three mountain lions, two wolves, and a baboon.

Gruesome scenes of the place where the authorities gathered the corpses looked like a failed Noah’s Ark.

The good part of this otherwise sad day for animal lovers was that no humans died. Although incidents do occur, the animals were more focused on exploring the world they only saw from behind bars.

Coming up next is another case involving dangerous polar bears.

5. Binky Takes A Bite From A Visitor

Binky Takes A Bite From A Visitor
via Alaska Zoo

Unfortunately, Binky is one of the animals involved in incidents which is no longer alive today.

Nevertheless, Binky died in style. The polar bear was involved in two separate feuds with visitors in 1994, just one year before passing away.

Binky’s claim to fame started when he mauled a woman that wanted photos from close-by. Australian tourist Kathryn Warburton was probably so thrilled to see a polar bear for the first time that she ignored the big sign that says not to get close to the bars.

Binky broke her leg and caused serious other injuries. Zoo keepers were stunned to see the bear keep the woman’s shoe in his mouth for three consecutive days, refusing both food and water.

The thrill of the hunt made the old bear feel alive again. But that thrill is nothing compared to what a real estate agent went through at the zoo.

6. Real Estate Agent Jumps From A Monorail In The Tigers’ Cage

Real Estate Agent Jumps From A Monorail In The Tiger's Cage
via Zastavki

Although it did not turn deadly, the story of the real estate agent that jumped from a speeding monorail directly in the tiger’s cage will amaze you.

We get it that people like to trespass and get closer to the animals they admire. But why risk it all? The physics we remember from high school taught us that it’s not safe to take a fall, especially if it gets you in the tigers’ enclosure.

The Bronx Zoo staff were swift to react and save the youngster’s life. However, the daredevil ended up severely battered. A punctured lung and broken arm and leg were the war wounds he proudly brought back home to his mother.

Villalobos is one of the lucky ones. Jumping from speeding vehicles and fooling around with genuine tigers cost many others before him their lives.

We know you loved the bear stories this far, so here’s another one!

7. Woman Tosses Excess Fingers To Hungry Bears

Woman Tosses Excess Fingers To Hungry Bears
via Garlyn Zoo

A visit to the Wisconsin Zoo turned into a nightmare for a family taking their 3-year-old granddaughter to see the bears. Contrary to what you might expect, the mother did not mishandle the baby this time.

She put herself in incredible danger when she attempted to feed black bears through the bars. The large animals are passive most of the time. However, one of them decided to kill boredom by taking more than the food offering.

Last time we checked human fingers serve as great appetizers for bears digging their way into a human body. However, the 47-year-old woman can count herself lucky for losing just the fingers.

Bears, tigers, gorillas. We have everything, right? You are craving for a worst case scenario involving wolves, so we invite you to read the next story.

8. Wolf Enthusiast Gets Eaten Alive By A Pack

Wolf Enthusiast Gets Eaten Alive By A Pack
via Wallpaper Crave

You must be extremely unlucky to die after just three days in the job.

For wildlife biologist Trisha Wyman, a lifetime passion turned deadly when the wolves she was hired to care gave in to their killing instincts.

Trisha’s body was found mostly intact, a rather strange detail if you consider the fact that wolves are always hungry. However, police officers had to fire to be able to take the corpse away.

The case is even more bizarre because the 23-year-old biologist sensed a degree of hostility coming from one of the wolves and confessed to her fiancé.

It was enough for the aggressive wolf to lead the attack. Once the smell of blood was in the air, the others couldn’t resist the urge.

Zoos all over the world have their share of trouble. Just take a look at what happened to a janitor hired by the Singapore Zoo.

9. Sumatran Tigers Go Mad On Cleaning Day

Bengal Tigers Go Mad On Cleaning Day
via Grayline

Cleaning Day at the zoo is that time of the week when incidents are most likely to happen.

Why? Because they send in janitors with little to no skills regarding peaceful interactions with the animals held captive. As far as we see it, animals consider workers intruders that claim their territories with brooms and buckets.

32-year-old Nordin Montong stood no chance when his cleaning routine disturbed the three Sumatran tigers held at the Singapore Zoo. The man was caught unprepared, and visitors that happened to stop by the tigers’ den witnessed a tragic and disproportionate confrontation.

Before anyone could intervene, Nordin has already suffered severe injuries. The tigers are alive and well, and still on display.

The next drama didn’t happen at a zoo. Sea world is the perfect stage for an execution with public.

10. Devastated Spectators Watch Trainer Slammed To Death By Tilikum The Killer Whale

Devastated Spectators Watch Trainer Slammed To Death By Tilikum The Killer Whale
via Abc News

There is a good explanation to why they call them killer whales.

Tilikum is arguably the most notorious murderer currently living in captivity. The Icelandic orca is responsible for three deaths, making many question management’s decision to keep her alive.

Well, the answer is simple. Animals didn’t want to be captured and showed to the public for fun. Anyone stepping into the arena alongside Tilikum was well aware of the risks involved.

We will talk about the animal’s most recent incident, one that happened in front of a live audience. Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer, was rubbing Tilikum’s belly when the 6-ton beast pulled her into the pool and kept it there for several minutes.

An autopsy revealed that drowning was the primary cause of death, with violent traumas also playing its part.

It’s time to move on to another incident where the sheer size of the animal left no chance of survival.

11. Mila The Elephant Crushes The Owner Of The Zoo

Mila The Elephant Crushes The Owner Of The Zoo
via Janaina Matarazzo

All animals look peaceful when there is a fence separating them from the human keepers.

However, the killing instincts resurface once all barriers are off. We can say that happened with Mila the elephant and the owner of the zoo, Dr. Schofiled. The 3.7 tons animal exploited the keeper’s lack of attention and grabbed her with the trunk.

What followed was a tight embrace that gradually put the woman into a dreamless slumber. The horrific scene happened at Franklin Zoo, in New Zealand.

Mila was not punished for her misbehavior. In fact, things went in the opposition direction. Elephant enthusiast raised $1.5 million from donations to have her moved to the San Diego Zoo, where she would enjoy the company of other elephants.

It helps to know that Mila spent most of her life in captivity and did not see another member of her species for three decades.

Being killed by an elephant rarely produces a bloodbath. Tigers are different. Check out the next bad thing that happened at the zoo!

12. Tatiana The Tiger Mauls Zoo Visitors

Tatiana The Tiger Mauls Zoo Visitors
via National Geographic

Tigers are nature’s most skilled killers, and another zoo incident shows again how dangerous they can be in the case of an attack.

There was a warning side ahead of the event at the San Francisco Zoo that involved Tatiana, the tiger. Before killing one visitor and seriously injuring two others on Christmas Day 2005, the Siberian tigress ruined a zookeeper’s arm during feeding.

It is never clear how animals escape their outdoor enclosures. However, in most cases, visitors are the ones teasing the animals and driving them mad enough to find a way out.

Tatiana’s rampage turned the otherwise peaceful zoo into a battleground. The staff had ordered the evacuation and a complete lockdown before the police stepped in to hunt the beast down.

You will be sad to now that the victim was a 17-year-old. Describing the marks left on him would be sickening. It’s enough to say that tigers always go for the head and neck.

The next zoo incident is surprising because the animal is typically friendly and fun to pet.

13. Gu Gu the Panda Gets Nasty With Visitors

Gu Gu the Panda Gets Nasty With Visitors
via Zuma Press

Gu Gu is not your typical soft and cuddly giant panda.

The Beijing Zoo animal was swift to sanction trespassers on three separate occasions. It might just happen that Gu Gu acquired a taste for human blood and violence.

The first incident occurred in 2006 when a drunk man jumped the fence and went for a panda hug. The idiotic visitor approached the bear from behind, scaring him to death and causing a violent reaction. The man and the animal bit each other until zoo officials stepped in.

Blame popular culture for picturing panda bears as cute and harmless. Two more incidents left idiots complaining that Gu Gu acts not like he was supposed to. The panda was swift to sanction the intrusions by biting bone-deep.

The last case saw zookeepers using tools to pry Gu Gu’s jaws open. And to think we buy stuffed versions of this vicious killers.

Stay tuned for another classic example of showing up drunk at the zoo.

14. Monkeys Prey Upon A Drunk Man

Monkeys Prey Upon A Drunk Man
via Associated Press

Brazil is a dangerous place, and innocent fun turned into a bloodbath when a man ended up in the “wrong part of town.”

Being drunk and visiting the zoo don’t go well together. We all know that, but one Brazilian man wanted to test it on his tab.

Mr. Dos Santos, a mechanic from Sao Paolo, Brazil, decided it would be fun to continue his heavy boozing at the Sorocaba Zoo. He breached into an enclosure and approached a group of spider monkeys, hoping to make new pals.

However, the little primates did not like the idea of being disturbed. Whether they acted territorial or were too annoyed by the man’s pungent smell, what followed could have turned deadly.

A severely intoxicated human stands no chance against the winged and fearless monkeys. Witnesses had nothing to do than watch Dos Santos get beaten up. The animals bit and scratched him several times, with the whole incident caught on camera.

Enough with the funny stories. The next case will make you think twice about taking the kids to the zoo.

15. Hungry African Wild Dogs Split A Child

Hungry African Wild Dogs Split A Child
via WWF

Seeing your 2-year-old mauled to death at on zoo day certainly counts as the worst day of your life.

The story is straightforward and old as time itself. Reckless mom drops her toddler beyond the safety line and watches how the zoo animals rip him apart. The only variable here is the beast “responsible.”

A pack of African Wild Dogs appreciated the change in diet and mauled the poor little boy. The good part of the tragedy is that the zookeepers had time to recover the body before being completely dismembered.

The aftermath of the incident was more than shameful. The mother sought a scapegoat as she decided to sue Pittsburgh Zoo for negligence. Later investigations revealed nothing else than another case of bad parenting.

16. Jabari The Gorilla Is Shot And Killed After Assaulting Children

Jabari The Gorilla Is Shot And Killed After Assaulting Children
via LA Times

Harambe was by no means an isolated incident. Gorillas are known as troublemakers at the zoo, and back in 2004, it was Jabari’s turn to steal the headlines.

The 150 kg male primate escaped from its enclosure and led to the full-scale evacuation of the Dallas Zoo. One woman and 3-year-old son were amongst the victims, with reports describing Jabari take the toddler in his mouth, and smash him against the zoo walls.

Luckily no one was killed, but the hunt to recapture Jabari lasted enough hours. After failing to tranquilize the gorilla, zookeepers called the cops, who had no option than to shoot and kill Jabari.

No video footage exists of the incident, but watching “The Planet of the Apes” might show give a glimpse of the horror installed when dangerous animals take over.

Nothing can prepare you for the next gruesome zoo incident!

17. Young Giraffe Killed, Dissected, And Fed To Lions

Young Giraffe Killed, Dissected, And Fed To Lions
via Getty Images

Sometimes, the worst thing that can happen at a zoo is not an accident.

The staff at the Copenhagen Zoo meticulously planned the public dissection of Marius the giraffe, despite the media storm that was heading their way.

Many aspects make the offensive operation inexcusable. Not only visitors were allowed to see the insides of the mighty animal scattered all over the place, but some were able to identify parts of it in the lions’ den. Yep, they fed poor Marius to the big cats!

Count the score of children unprepared for such degree of mutilation, and you get the full picture. What is odd is the stubbornness of the zoo management.

Before they slaughtered Marius, the Copenhagen Zoo received hundreds of petitions and even offers from zoos around the world that were willing to host the animal.

The reason they killed Marius will shock you. The 2-year-old male giraffe was considered genetically unsuitable for breeding.

We hope the next zoo incident can avenge Marius for you.

18. Melody The Tapir Bites Off Arm

Melody The Tapir Bites Off Arm
via Daily Viral Updates

We have to go many years back in time (1998) to tell the story of what happened one Friday morning at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Zookeeper Lisa Morehead experienced injuries worthy of a horror movie at the hands of the otherwise friendly tapir called Melody. The incident left the woman without an arm and with facial scars that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

If you are not familiar with the animal, you can imagine a pig as big as a donkey with a funny looking nose. Although herbivores, adult tapirs have a stature that can make them a threat to humans.

The reason why Melody attacked was simple. She perceived Lisa as a threat to her baby. Animals of all sizes are prone to such a reaction, and even the victim accepted that she was clumsy and made a terrible mistake.

Melody remained on display at the zoo, attracting more tourists after the incident.