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Big cat mauls duo in zoo

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 20.07.10
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Kohima, July 19: An elderly man was mauled by a leopard at a zoo near Dimapur when he crossed the safety barricade ignoring warnings for a closer look at the animal yesterday afternoon.

While Kivikha Chophy, 64, suffered severe injuries on the head and cheek, his nephew, 27-year-old Kughazhe Yeptho, had deep gashes on his neck and elbows when he tried to free his uncle from the leopard’s grip.

Chophy has slipped into a coma, though Yeptho could go home after first aid.

The two strolled into Rangapahar zoological garden near Dimapur a little before noon.

When they reached the leopard’s enclosure, Chophy passed the safety barricade and stood just outside the animal’s cage.

As the man turned his back to the cage to leave, the leopard thrust out its paws through the railing and gripped his head.

The nephew grasped the leopard’s paws with both hands to loosen the cat’s grip.

But by the time the leopard let go, Chophy had suffered severe trauma on the scalp and lost consciousness from loss of blood.

He was rushed to the district hospital where doctors operated on his injury and administered a unit of blood, but he is yet to regain consciousness.

Terming the incident as an “accident”, Obed Bohovi Swu, warden of the zoo, said there was a clear pictorial representation put up at the safety barricade about 8 to 10 feet from the leopard’s cage warning visitors against going near the animals or crossing the cordon.

Sashidar, chief wildlife warden of Nagaland, told The Telegraph that there are four leopards in the zoo and that the “incident” had occurred only because the two persons ventured near the enclosure.

“We often inform our visitors but they become too curious,” he said, pointing out that “it even happens in Guwahati zoo.”

In December 2007, a Royal Bengal tiger couple yanked off a man’s arm when he ventured too close to their cage for a photograph in Guwahati zoo.

Jayprakash Bezbaruah was mauled to death by the two tigers as his wife and sons watched in horror.

The junior technical instructor reached the tigers and stretched out his hands holding the camera through the iron railing.

While one tiger grabbed Bezbaruah’s left arm, another sunk its teeth into his arm and clawed his face.

Swu said crossing the barricade was in gross violation of the Wildlife Protection Act.

He said reports would be submitted to the government but ruled out compensation to the injured persons as they had violated the law.