lioness

Man seriously injured after reaching through cage to pet lion

Earlier this week, video footage showing a man being mauled by a lion went viral.

The man in the clip has subsequently been identified as Pieter Nortje, a 55-year-old tourist who was visiting the Tikwe River Lodge in Virgina, Free State Province, in South Africa. He was there with his wife, who witnessed the attack.

During their visit to the wildlife park, the pair were given a tour of the lion enclosure, but were at no point told that they could touch the lions. In fact, despite multiple warnings to the contrary, Nortje reached through the fence to pet two lions.

The first did not react aggressively, but the second responded by biting him and yanking at his arm.

During the attack, Nortje's wife can be heard saying, "It's biting him, it's biting him!"

This came just after Nortje himself said: "If you bite me, then I’m going to bite you back."

After the incident happened, the tourist was rushed to hospital. He was suffering from septic shock - a potentially fatal condition caused by severe infection which requires immediate medical intervention. The survival rate can be anywhere between 25 and 50 per cent, so Nortje is lucky to be alive.

The company behind the tour has denied any responsibility, saying: "There are warning signs everywhere. Mr. Nortje stuck his hand through the electric fence to touch the lions and was bitten."

lion Credit: Pexels

"The man was lucky that the lioness was probably not hungry or not used to killing live prey outside in the wild," said a South African game ranger who saw the video.

"Lions are pack animals and hunt as a team so others in the enclosure could easily have joined in and if they had done killed him whether there was a fence between them or not. Some people never learn that where wild animals are concerned keep a distance between them and you."

Nortje is still recovering from his injuries. It is not clear what action - if any - was taken against the lion.