This is the horrifying moment a huge Siberian tiger attacked and mauled a young zookeeper in full view of horrified visitors.
The animal sprang on the woman as she brought the 16-year-old male food, with pictures showing the woman on her back as the tiger seemingly goes in for the kill.
But the woman’s life was saved by the shocked onlookers who shouted, threw stones and even hurled tables and chairs from a nearby cafe to distract the tiger called Taifun, or Typhoon.
The commotion alerted other visitors who ran to join the onlookers and the woman was able to run to a secure part of the compound.
The unnamed zookeeper from Kaliningrad in Russia was badly hurt and suffering from multiple injuries and was rushed to hospital – but she is expected to survive.
One witness said: ‘The girl’s face was bleeding.
‘She screamed and tried to fight off the animal.’
Other zoo employees were not present at the moment of the surprise attack, and it was down to the Russian visitors to save the keeper.
The Siberian tiger – the largest cat in the world – was supposed to be contained in another part of its compound when the woman brought its food.
But there was clearly a problem and the cat – described as ‘elderly’ – was able to attack.
A spokesman said: ‘The animal entered the enclosure when the keeper was there.
‘The tiger attacked the human.
‘Visitors with their shouting, stones and other improvisation managed to distract the animal.
‘This allowed the zoo employee to hide in a back room.’
Later zoo staff arrived at the scene and shot a sedative into the tiger.
A local health ministry spokesman said: ‘The patient was delivered to the hospital with multiple wounds to the body and limbs.
‘She is conscious, her condition is assessed as stable but critical.
‘There is no threat to her life.’
The woman is in intensive care at a hospital in Kaliningrad, a Russian region wedged between the NATO and EU countries of Poland and Lithuania.
A criminal investigation has been opened.
The Siberian tiger was born on 1 July 2001 in Chelyabinsk Zoo.
It was later moved to Kaliningrad Zoo.
A source said: ‘Typhoon has never before shown any aggression to zoo staff.’