From a sharp-toothed zoo escapee to a killer mountain goat, we count fifteen of the most devastating animal attacks around the world!
15 – San Francisco Zoo Tiger Attack,
- On Christmas Day 2007, Tatiana the tiger escaped her grotto enclosure at San Francisco Zoo and fatally mauled a seventeen-year-old boy. Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr. had his jugular vein slashed by the ferocious animal. Although never proven, many believe Carlos attracted the tiger’s ire by taunting it. Rookie mistake.
- Two brothers also suffered severe bites and claw wounds and were lucky to have escaped with their lives.
- Tatiana was brought to the San Francisco Zoo in 2005 and had previously showed signs of aggression when she clawed and bit a veteran zookeeper.
- The scene on Christmas was chaotic, with police delayed in their arrival. Twenty minutes after her escape, Tatiana had to be shot by a zoo team member.
- This was the first visitor fatality caused by an animal escape in the history of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
14 – Charla Nash Chimp Attack,
- In 2009, Charla Nash was brutally maimed by her friend’s chimpanzee, Travis. The 200-pound primate ripped off Nash’s nose, lips, eyelids, and hands, and was shot dead by a police officer in self-defence.
- Travis famously appeared in television shows and commercials, including the Maury Povich Show and ads for Coca-Cola. He had exhibited no past violent behaviours; however, in 2003, he escaped his owner’s car at a busy intersection and chased a man who had thrown something at their vehicle. That incident led to a new Connecticut law prohibiting people from keeping primates heavier than fifty pounds as pets.
- Since her attack, Charla Nash has had a full face transplant. Unfortunately, doctors were forced to remove her eyes because of a disease transmitted by the chimp, and an attempted hand transplant failed because Nash’s body rejected it.
- The U.S. Military has reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist with Nash’s physical rehabilitation. They believe the research could serve disfigured soldiers returning from war.
13 – Maddox Derkosh Wild Dogs Attack,
- Maddox Derkosh was a two-year-old boy who, in 2012, met a tragic death when he fell off a wooden rail into Pittsburgh Zoo’s African wild painted dogs enclosure.
- The boy had poor vision, so his mother had lifted him up to give him a better view of the dogs. Maddox lunged forward to get a better view and fell eleven feet, bouncing off protective netting and into the pit, where eleven hungry dogs pounced on him.
- The autopsy later confirmed the boy survived the fall, but died from the severe blood loss caused by the attack.
12 – Azaria Chamberlain Disappearance,
- Azaria Chamberlain was a nine-week-old infant who was tragically eaten by a dingo in Australia’s Northern Territory in 1980.
- Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain, immediately contacted police to report that a dingo had stolen her baby. Lindy was trialled and eventually convicted of first-degree murder because there was insufficient evidence to suggest the dingo even existed. The case was highly controversial.
- During the trial, Lindy Chamberlain had been adamant Azaria was wearing a matinée jacket over her jumpsuit at the time of her disappearance. In 1986, police discovered Azaria’s missing jacket in an area full of dingo lairs while investigating an unrelated incident. The Northern Territory Chief Minister immediately ordered the Chamberlain’s release and the case was officially closed.
- The 1988 film A Cry in the Dark, starring Meryl Streep, depicts the events of the Chamberlain case.
11 – Bethany Hamilton Shark Attack,
- In 2003, thirteen-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark while surfing in Tunnels Beach, Kaui. She’d been lying on her surfboard, with one arm in the water, when a hungry tiger shark swam up and ripped off her arm, permanently severing it.
- The attack occurred at 7.30 in the morning and Hamilton lost an astonishing sixty percent of her blood. Fortunately, a doctor living in a nearby hotel came to her rescue and she miraculously survived.
- The offending tiger shark was hunted down and killed, and Hamilton returned to surfing three weeks later. The broken surfboard Hamilton rode during the attack is on display at the California Surf Museum.