Recently, a video entitled “tiger attack in the zoo” went viral on the Internet and aroused a heated discussion about who was actually responsible.
In Badaling wild animal park tiger feeding area, a tourist got out of her car and was suddenly attacked by a tiger, causing one death and one injury. Before the tourist got out, park staff in a nearby vehicle warned her by loudspeaker not to do it.
A majority of netizens think that the park is not responsible for the tragedy because it had obtained a signed liability release from the tourist at the park entrance and had given her warnings of the danger, which she ignored.
According to the tort law of China, the park is responsible for any harm its animals cause to humans unless it can establish that it ensured the person’s safety.
Zhuwei, deputy director of the China University of Political Science and Law, said this provision means that if the park causes harm to a person, it is assumed to be guilty as a first step. But if it can prove that it performed the duty of ensuring that person’s safety, it can escape liability.
In Badaling wildlife park, the tourists have to sign an agreement on liability for damage. The first article is “In the wild animal area, you must close or lock the door and window. It’s not allowed to feed the animals or get out of the car. In case of damage caused by disobedience of the rules, the driver will be responsible.”
Zhu said that from one point of view the park shouldn’t be liable. “From the video, we can see that the woman got out on her own will. The loudspeaker clearly said it’s not allowed. It’s not that the animal came out to attack her but that the tourist decided to get out despite having known the danger,” Zhu said.
“From this perspective, the park had performed the duty of reminder and administration,” Zhu continued.
But there are other people who claim that the park should take on responsibility, because allowing tourists to drive in the park at all is inherently dangerous. Having known that wild animals such as tigers are aggressive, the park made the potential tragedy possible.
Even though the park had a signed security agreement from the tourist and she was warned before the attack, the park cannot be exempted from all responsibility. There may, for example, be other unexpected incidents such as a vehicle fault or a sudden illness which may also expose a tourist to a tiger.
As the administrator, the park should have known that there are security threats in these activities. It’s required to consider all potential dangers and ensure tourists’ safety. If it does not do so, it must bear legal liability.