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Boy, 4, Mauled To Death By Escaped Zoo Jaguar; Dad fights with bare hands in bid to save son.

AN escaped zoo jaguar killed a four-year-old boy and savaged his father as he fought with bare hands to drive the beast away.

Little Gregoire Lucazeau came face to face with two runaway jaguars as he strolled through a wildlife park with his family.

One of the big cats mauled the boy's head and neck.

For 30 minutes terrified visitors tried to find shelter as the animals roamed the zoo.

A police marksman killed the animal which attacked Gregoire. The other jaguar was captured and destroyed.

Police closed the zoo yesterday as the victim's soldier father Christophe was released from hospital after treatment.

Gregoire, his two brothers, two sisters and three friends were running ahead of their parents when the jaguars tunnelled out of their enclosure and burst through fencing.

As the children went down a passage leading to the cage, they were attacked.

Gregoire's grandfather Frederic said last night: "The jaguars were lying in wait and pounced on the first kid to arrive. Gregoire's mum Marie-Annick is in shock, just trying to make the best of things.

"It is too early to say whether the trauma of what happened will have a lasting effect on the children."

Officials have begun an inquiry into security at the park, at Doue-la-Fontaine in central France, 160 miles from Paris

Police took a statement from director Pierre Gay who said the South American jaguars, born at the zoo four years ago, had not shown any aggression before. In 1995 a man was mauled by a lion at the park, which has 220,000 visitors a year.

The following year two schoolchildren clambered over railings outside the lions' den and one was attacked.

Inquiries cleared the zoo of blame.
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Author:Hussell, From Lesley
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 7, 1998
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