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Zion staff had requested Tasers for safety

Tuesday 2 Oct 2012 6:26 p.m.

By Amanda Gillies

A big cat handler at Zion Wildlife Park has told a coroners inquest staff knew the tiger that killed Clifford Dalu Mncube was dangerous, but they weren't properly equipped with safety equipment.

The handler had suggested staff be armed with Tasers, but nothing was done about it.

Mr Mncube knew Abu was dangerous, as he has himself saved the life of a man who'd been attacked by the 260kg white tiger. He also knew it was staff policy to lock Abu up when entering the enclosure, but he chose to ignore it.

"I said to him, 'Abu is inside the enclosure, we may as well close him in,'” says witness Martin Ferreira. “He just answered me like, ‘I know what I'm doing.'”

Minutes later Mr Mncube was mauled to death.

Mr Ferreira told the inquest he had suggested the big cat handlers be armed with Tasers to make work safer for them.

At first, the park's former director Patricia Busch denied being told about the request. But then about an hour later she admitted she had been, but didn't know what a Taser was.

She also denied telling staff not to be in the enclosures when inspectors visited and to fob tiger bites off as dog bites.

She did accept the park had a history of not reporting incidents, and claimed she raised a lot of issues with MAF.

She was open about her fallout with her son Craig, known as the Lion Man, and claimed Mr Mncube also had a bitter fallout with him.

She said she was like a mother to Mr Mncube, and rubbished a suggestion he'd been feeling depressed and that the tiger would have sensed that.

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