8 tigers attack tourist bus, break windows; many hurt
A group of tourists visiting a wildlife park in eastern China had a narrow escape after Bengal tigers attacked their bus, puncturing its tyres and destroying the windscreen, state media said on Tuesday.
A worker in charge of the enclosure at Jinan Wildlife World in Shandong province was at lunch when the incident happened last Saturday and it took officials 10 minutes to open a gate so the tourists could escape, reports said.
None of the 27 tourists on the bus were injured, but the driver's hand was hurt when the tigers jumped on the vehicle and broke the windscreen, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Terrified visitors hid under their seats as a group of up to eight tigers bit the vehicle's tyres, destroyed its windshield wipers and broke windows, the Global Times reported.
Attempts to call police failed because there was no mobile phone reception, it added.
"We are deeply sorry for the accident," Wu Yanfei, deputy manager of Jinan Wildlife World, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
The park has launched an investigation into the attack and compensated the tourists, Xinhua said.
China says it has nearly 6,000 endangered tigers in captivity, but just 50 to 60 living in the wild in its northeast.
In the 1980s, China set up tiger farms to try to preserve the big cats, intending to release some into the wild.
But the farms have come under the international spotlight, with some conservation groups saying they use the cats for their body parts, while media reports have exposed poor conditions at zoos and animal parks.
A number of attacks on humans by captive tigers have been reported in recent years.
Last year, a tour bus driver was mauled to death by a Siberian tiger at a breeding centre in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang after he got out of his vehicle to check on a mechanical problem.
In 2010, a zoo keeper was killed by a Bengal tiger at Shanghai Zoo after apparently forgetting to lock the animal's cage.
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