A BUS carrying 27 people to see wild beasts at a zoo in eastern China was attacked by a group of Bengal tigers, leaving the visitors fearing for their lives for about 20 minutes while the tiger zone's gatekeeper was out for dinner.
At least five adult tigers smashed the bus with their paws, breaking its windows, and bit its tires on Saturday afternoon, according to the Paomaling Wild Animal Zoo in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province.
Zoo employees finally became aware of the incident through security cameras and rushed to open the gate linking the tiger zone to a safe area. No one was injured, the Jinan Times reported yesterday.
The zoo said the tigers were agitated and got "too excited" by some visitors' behavior.
"The tigers have entered the estrus, highly agitated by some of the visitors who deliberately provoked them," according to the announcement published by the zoo.
But visitors denied the allegations, saying the zoo was lying and shirking its responsibilities.
The zoo didn't provide a specially reinforced bus and the gatekeeper left for a meal without giving notice, the outraged visitors told the newspaper, despite being ordered by the zoo to sign an agreement never to speak out about the incident.
"One tiger's tooth was broken when biting a tire and became furious, with his mouth bleeding. It called seven or eight of his partners to surround and storm the bus," a visitor said. "The brutal tigers were trying to get in. We just screamed and cried!"
The visitors have been greatly compensated, the zoo said.