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Top 10 Horrifying Trips To The Zoo

by Robert Grimminck
fact checked by Jamie Frater

[WARNING: Contains some disturbing images.] Usually, when you visit the zoo, you just see animals lying around trying to avoid the heat. If you’re lucky, you might get to see a large cat eat something that the trainers gave to him or her.

See Also: 10 Facts About History’s Shameful And Horrible Human Zoos

Every so often, trainers and handlers will get maimed or killed, but those are the hazards of a job like that.

Then, very rarely, things can go seriously wrong for people expecting to have a leisurely visit to the zoo.

10 Maqsood

A 20-year-old man living in Delhi, India, who was only identified by the name of Maqsood, had been obsessed with tigers ever since he visited the Delhi Zoo in June 2014.

After Maqsood lost his job as a porter in mid-2014, he would visit the zoo during the afternoon, telling his mother and pregnant wife that he was out looking for a job.

On September 24, 2014, Maqsood was visiting one of his favorite exhibits at the Delhi Zoo—the white tiger exhibit. Maqsood was seen leaning over the wall of the enclosure and warned by a guard not to do that.

When the guard wasn’t looking, Maqsood fell into the tiger enclosure and landed 15 feet below in a moat. A few minutes later, Vijay, a 7-year-old, six-foot-long, 450-pound white tiger approached him. As Maqsood crouched, either pleading or praying, the tiger bit his neck and dragged him to the other end of the enclosure.

Fifteen minutes after dragging the young man away, zoo officials were able to lure Vijay to another area of the enclosure with some meat.

Sadly, it was too late for Maqsood; he died as a result of his injuries.

After the death, attendance at the zoo went up, and the tiger exhibit became especially popular. Vijay is still at the zoo, and the staff says he isn’t a man-eater. But they always keep an eye on him, just in case.[1]

9 Roger Dean Adams

On July 5, 1970, 19-year-old Roger Dean Adams and two of his friends were drinking beer. At some point, they decided that it would be an excellent time to visit the Oregon Zoo. But, when they arrived, they were surprised to find that the zoo was closed.

Undeterred, the three friends broke into the zoo and started roaming around. First, they visited the penguin exhibit where they jumped the rail. Once inside the enclosure, Adams picked up one of the smaller penguins and threw it in the pool.

Feeling a bit braver, Adams and his friends moved on to the bear enclosure. Adams climbed the wall, then lowered himself down and kicked a bear a couple of times in the head. He then managed to scramble out of the enclosure uninjured.

Having survived that encounter, the three young men moved on to the lion enclosure, where Adams climbed the wall and lowered himself into the cage. While hanging onto the wall of the enclosure, Adams kicked an 11-year-old lioness named Sis in the head. Sis jumped up and pulled Adams into the cage as he tried to climb out.

Adams’ friends tried to scare her away by throwing rocks and bottles, but eventually, they had to call for help.

The police arrived, and they had to shoot Sis and a 15-year-old male lion named Caesar.

Roger Dean Adams was dead by the time the police killed the lions.

When the president of the zoo was asked by a newspaper reporter what he thought of the incident, he said that his quote would be unprintable. He pointed out that the lions were exactly where they should have been.[2]

8 Prakesh Tiwari

It was New Year’s Day, 1996, and Prakesh Tiwari and Suresh Rai, both in their 20s, had spent part of the day drinking in Calcutta, India. For some unknown reason, they thought that the celebration called for a visit to the tiger exhibit at the Calcutta Zoo.

With a gold garland in hand, they climbed into the tiger exhibit, and crossed the exhibit’s moat. That’s when they came face to face with a 13-year-old Bengal tiger named Shiva. Rai threw the garland around Shiva’s neck. Shiva did not take kindly to this, and she pounced on Rai. To save his friend, Tiwari kicked the tiger in the face, so Shiva turned her attention to him.

People at the zoo noticed the commotion and got help. Officials were able to rescue Rai, but Tiwari died as a result of the attack.[3]

7Jayaprakash Bezbaruah

On December 19, 2007, 50-year-old Jayaprakash Bezbaruah was visiting the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati, India, with his wife and two children.

To get a picture of two Bengal tigers, Bezbaruah went against the warnings from guards and climbed over one of the barriers. Once he was close to the enclosure, he stuck his arm in between the bars. Suddenly, two tigers grabbed his arm, and then tore his arm off in front of his horrified family and dozens of other witnesses.

Bezbaruah was taken to the hospital, but he died from blood loss.[4]

6 Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr.

It was shortly after closing time at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day, 2007. 17-year-old Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr. and his two friends who were brothers, 19-year-old Paul Dhaliwal and 23-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal, had spent the afternoon at the zoo.

As they were walking out, they passed by the tiger grotto.

It is believed that the three young men taunted a 4-year-old Siberian tiger named Tatiana. The 450-pound tiger jumped out of the grotto and caught the top of the 12-and-a-half-foot wall, which was below federal regulations. She was able to pull herself up and out of the enclosure. The tiger landed on the asphalt and attacked Paul. Carlos and Kulbir tried to get the animal’s attention, and when they did, the tiger pounced on Carlos. The Dhaliwal brothers ran to a nearby zoo café and started yelling for help.

After killing Carlos, the tiger followed the trail of blood left by Paul. She tracked him from about 300 yards. When Tatiana found Paul, he was with Kulbir, and Tatiana started mauling Kulbir. The police arrived on the scene shortly afterward, and they were forced to kill Tatiana.

Both Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal survived the attack.[5]

5 David Mark Wasson

On September 3, 1977, 6-year-old David Mark Wasson and his father were visiting the Miami Serpentarium. David and his father stopped off at the crocodile pit. David was placed on top of the wall of the enclosure, so that he and his father could throw sea grapes to the crocodiles.

When his father turned around to get more sea grapes, David fell into the pit. A guard who witnessed the accident said that Cookie, a 12-foot African crocodile, reacted instantly. From 10 feet away, he lunged at David and clasped his jaws around the boy’s chest. Cookie started shaking David and banged his head against the wall.

Another man jumped into the pit to save David. The man managed to grab David, but Cookie still had a hold on David. The man was dragged towards the crocodile-filled water as Cookie carried David into the water, so he had to let go.

Once in the water, the crocodile held the boy’s body underwater for five or six minutes. He only let go of the body after he was poked in the eye.

David was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.

The owner of the serpentarium was visibly shaken by the tragedy. He shot Cookie seven times, and it took an hour for the crocodile to die.[6]

4 Juan Perez

On May 19, 1987, 11-year-old Juan Perez and two of his friends were visiting the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York, after the zoo had closed for the day.

At about 7:00 p.m., the friends started daring each other to go swimming in some of the animals’ enclosures.

First, they took a swim in the moat in the seal exhibit. But when that wasn’t daring enough, the three boys decided to take a swim in the polar bear cage.

The three boys disrobed, but two of them started to back out. Trying to force his friends into the cage, Juan threw their clothes into the moat. This noise roused the two polar bears, a male and a female, that were both over eight feet tall and weighed over 900 pounds.

When Juan slipped into the water, the polar bears approached him. But instead of climbing out, Perez provoked the female bear. This led to the male biting him on his shoulder and dragging him away. As Juan was being dragged away, he screamed to his friends, “Go get help! They’re biting me hard!” Juan’s two friends screamed for help and then hid.

The police arrived several minutes later, but it took 20 minutes for them to get the zoo unlocked. When they arrived at the polar bear enclosure, they saw the two bears fighting over Juan’s remains.

The police were told that there were more children in the enclosure with the bears, and they could see children’s clothes floating in the moat.

The police felt that they had no choice but to shoot the bears 20 times with a 12-gauge shotgun and six times with a revolver. Both bears died as a result of their wounds.

It was only after the bears were shot that the police found out that the other two boys did not go into the enclosure.[7]

3 Ruth Ellen Freedman

On June 28, 1966, three-year-old Ruth Ellen Freedman and her parents were visiting the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. They stopped to see the zoo’s only elephant, a three-ton 23-year-old Asian elephant named Winkie. Winkie had been at the zoo for 20 years and was considered docile. He was a favorite amongst the children because they could feed him peanuts and popcorn.

Wanting to feed him on that fateful day, Ruth ducked under a guard rail and got close to the cage. Then Winkie did something unusual; he reached out and wrapped his trunk around Ruth. Ruth’s mother screamed, and Winkie smashed the little girl against the bars, knocking her unconscious. Winkie picked Ruth up again and dropped her. Then Winkie brought Ruth’s body into the cage and stomped on her repeatedly.

Both of Ruth’s parents tried to get into the cage to save her, but they were unable to. When the caretaker stepped into the cage, Winkie stopped his attack, and the caretaker pulled the three-year-old’s body out of the cage.

After the death, Winkie was sent to a breeding farm. One of his offspring, also named Winkie, has been labeled a dangerous animal because he killed a female handler, and injured several other handlers and zoo visitors.[8]

2Julia Ann Vogt

In May 1958, the mother of 2½-year-old Julia Ann Vogt, brought her and her sister from their home in Chilliwack, British Columbia, to Washington D.C. to visit her parents.

May 16 was a beautiful day, so the family decided to visit the National Zoo. Grandfather Harry Jackson took Julia Ann to see the lions. Somehow, she got away from him and slipped past the guardrail. A full-grown male African lion named Passion approached her and grabbed her leg. Jackson jumped into action and tried to grab his granddaughter, but the lion was too strong. Passion pulled her body into the cage and walked around with her body in his mouth. When he dropped her, a lioness named Princess mauled the child, and she ended up decapitating her.

At the sight of his granddaughter being mauled, Jackson suffered a minor heart attack.

Julia Ann’s body was recovered after zookeepers chased the lions away with fire extinguishers. The tragic death sent ripples through the zoo industry, and new safety measures were enacted because of it.

Julia Ann’s grandfather, Harry Jackson, survived his heart attack.[9]

1 Maddox Derkosh

On November 4, 2012, two-year-old Maddox Derkosh and his parents were visiting the painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Maddox was placed on the railing by his mother, and he accidentally fell in. There were safety nets in place, but witnesses said Maddox bounced twice and fell into the enclosure.

The eleven painted dogs, which are very territorial, immediately pounced on the young boy. Even though there were zookeepers in the immediate area, there was nothing they could do because, by the time they responded, it was evident that Maddox was dead.

One of the dogs had to be shot because he would not leave the body alone.

After the tragedy, the zoo gave the painted dogs away. The Derkoshs sued the Pittsburgh Zoo, and the zoo’s lawyers said that Maddox’s mother was at fault for her son’s death. Ultimately, the Derkoshs and the Pittsburgh Zoo settled in June 2014.[10]

For more lists like this, check out 10 Horrifying Zoo Accidents, and 10 Bizarre Facts About Zoos.

About The Author: Robert Grimminck is the creator of the true crime YouTube channel Criminally Listed.

fact checked by Jamie Frater