A tourist was mauled to death in front of his wife and children after he climbed into a live tiger enclosure to dodge the 15-GBP entrance ticket.
The victim, in his 40s and identified by his surname Zhang, had been visiting the Youngor Zoo in Ningbo City, in East China’s Zhejiang Province, with family and friends when the tragedy took place.
Horrific mobile phone footage which has gone viral on Chinese social media, and which was later removed because of its graphic nature, shows Zhang - a migrant worker - being dragged around by the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica).
Other big cats also surround Zhang as he tries to fight them off by kicking out with his foot, but the animals refuse to leave, with one biting down firmly on the victim’s neck.
At the end of the clip, Zhang is dragged under the trees, away from the screaming crowd, and employees at the wildlife park attempt to scare the cats away using firecrackers.
According to the authorities, it took more than an hour to retrieve Zhang’s body and rush him to hospital and he was pronounced dead by medics shortly after.
One of the Siberian tigers was also shot dead during the incident, though reports have not confirmed whether it was the one that held Zhang by his neck.
Youngor Zoo has been shut for a day following the tragedy, with Zhang’s family opting to hold his funeral the next day after the unfortunate Chinese New Year holiday accident.
Ningbo City officials have confirmed that Zhang and one of his friends, surnamed Li, climbed the zoo’s 3-metre (9-foot) outer fence in order to avoid paying for the 130-RMB (15-GBP) ticket.
The pair’s wives and children, however, did purchase tickets and entered the park legally, reports said.
Further investigation is now under way.
This is China’s second high-profile and fatal tiger mauling in six months following the death of a female tourist in the capital Beijing last July.