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Lioness kills South African zoo employee

A lioness has attacked and killed a South African zoo employee at a rural lion farm, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“Apparently he was either feeding or cleaning an enclosure when he was attacked by a lioness,” Johannesburg Zoo spokeswoman Letta Madlala told AFP.

“The other employees heard him screaming and rushed to assist.”

After the attack Monday, 63-year-old Joe Ramonetha, was taken to hospital but was declared dead on arrival, Madlala said.

Ramonetha had been employed at the zoo since the 1970s and was an experienced animal handler, she said.

The 11-year-old lioness was tranquillised after the incident and has been isolated in her own cage. Madlala said zookeepers were uncertain whether to keep the animal alive or cull it.

“At this point a decision has not been taken,” she said.

The attack occurred at the zoo’s lion breeding farm near the town of Vredefort, 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of Johannesburg.