On Saturday, tigers at Beijing’s Badaling Wildlife Park mauled two women after they exited their car inside the safari zone, killing one on the spot and seriously injuring the other. Legal experts say that the park will not bear liability for the attack if it can prove that it fulfilled its obligations of warning and protecting visitors.
The incident happened after a family drove inside the Siberian tigers’ enclosure as part of a safari-style tour. The husband of the injured woman claimed that she did not realize that they were inside the enclosure when she got out of the car. Netizens speculate that he may have said this to place blame on the park.
When a visitor is hurt in any zoo, the legal liability goes first to the zoo, according to Chang Sha, a lawyer from the King & Capital Law Firm. However, if the zoo can prove that its facilities were not flawed and the staff fulfilled all obligations of warning visitors against dangerous behavior, it is not liable for the damages.
The wildlife park did plenty to warn visitors to keep themselves safe, according to the Beijing Morning Post. Visitors who drive private vehicles into enclosures are required to sign an agreement promising to “close and lock car doors and windows, never feed animals, and never get off the car.” If a car is damaged or someone is hurt as a result of violating the above, visitors agree in the contract to take all responsibility. Signs around the zoo, including at the tiger enclosure’s entrance, also forbid visitors from exiting cars. Patrol cars blare similar warnings.
The contract does not bar the park from liability if it fails to meet safety standards. Even if the park is found liable, which is possible considering how dangerous the tours were, it would still not bear full blame if the visitors were also at fault, adds Chang.
The wounded woman first exited the car because of a fight with the male driver, walking around the car to the front driver’s side door. Security camera footage then captures the moment that a tiger appears behind her and drags her away. The man and an older woman, later identified to be the wounded woman’s 57-year-old mother, rush after her to help. Unfortunately, another tiger caught and killed the mother. Seconds later, a patrol car arrived at the scene and park workers successfully chased the tigers away.
The injured woman’s brother said yesterday that her condition is mostly stable following multiple operations, including on her shoulder, arm, and abdomen.
The China News Service has dismissed rumors that the tigers have been put to death after the attack. They are currently confined inside the park, government representatives say, while the park undergoes investigation.
In case you somehow haven’t seen the video:
By Amy Yang