Lion kills zookeeper at Addis Ababa zoo

A zookeeper was attacked and killed by a lion at Addis Ababa zoo after forgetting to close the door to the animal's inner cage. The incident took place on 16 September as the zookeeper Abera Silsay was cleaning the cage of the seven-year old lion, named Kenenisa after a famous Ethiopian runner.

The attack is said to have lasted 15-20 minutes during which Silsay's colleagues fired live rounds in the air in a vain effort to scare off the lion, which was unharmed and remains at the zoo. It is the second time a zookeeper has been killed by a lion at the centre in the past 17 years.

The animal is one of 15 endangered Abyssinian lions at the zoo. Smaller than other lions and with a distinctive black mane, the animal is revered in Ethiopia where it is the national symbol. The director Musie Kiflom said the zoo will step up its training for keepers after the attack. "We have to update them on how to protect the animals, how to work with the animals, how to keep them, how to clean them.”

In April last year the city signed a 30 million birr deal to relocate the zoo to a new venue at Peacock Park in the Bole area of the capital, which zoo officials now say will be ready by the end of 2014. The much larger 26-hectare site, designed in collaboration with German architect Nikolaus Knebel, is expected to improve the low breeding rate among the lions currently housed in the cramped, depressing conditions at the existing 1.2-hectare Sidist Kilo location in the Arada area of the city. In 2006 the under-funded zoo made headlines after it admitted to poisoning six lion cubs and selling their bodies to taxidermists because it had insufficient resources to care for its animals.

The park was established in 1948 after hunters gifted lion cubs to Emperor Haile Selassie who christened them Molla and Lullu. The zoo also accommodates tortoises, geleda baboons, monkeys, apes, rabbits, ducks and fish.