Apparent white tiger attack kills keeper at Japan zoo

In this undated photo, White tiger Riku sits in a cage at Hirakawa Zoological Park in Kagoshima, southern Japan. Japanese police are investigating the death of a zoo keeper apparently after being mauled by the white tiger at the animal park. Local police said the 40-year-old Akira Furusho was found bleeding from his neck and collapsed Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, evening inside a tiger cage at the zoo. Zoo officials said they believe Furusho was attacked while trying to move the male tiger from its exhibition cage to its night-time cage. (Hirakawa Zoological Park/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Police in southern Japan said Tuesday that they are investigating the death of a zookeeper in an apparent attack by a white tiger.

Police said Akira Furusho was found bleeding from his neck and lying on the floor Monday evening inside a tiger cage at Hirakawa Zoological Park in Kagoshima.

Zoo officials said they believe Furusho was attacked while trying to move a male tiger from its exhibition cage to its night-time cage.

The 170-kilogram (375-pound) animal is one of four rare white tigers at the city-operated zoo.

Furusho was rushed to a hospital but was later pronounced dead. His autopsy results are pending.

Police said they are investigating whether proper safety measures were in place at the zoo.

No one saw the moment of the apparent attack. The tiger was sedated with a tranquilizer gun.

Zoo director Akinori Ishido told a televised news conference that he was saddened by the loss of his staff. He said safety procedures at the zoo are designed in a way that keepers do not enter a cage for feeding or cleaning while animals are inside.

The keeper somehow had entered the same space with the animal, Ishido said.

Furusho's family has asked that the zoo keep the tiger alive, according to NHK public television.

The white tiger area was closed to the public while police investigate.

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