A pair of white tiger cubs in India fatally mauled a zookeeper who had been on the job for only a week, the Times of India reports. The keeper, who goes by just Anji, 41, was pinned by the cubs on Saturday after entering their enclosure. He was herding the cats into their pen for the night, and failed to notice a gate wasn't latched to the area where the cubs were resting, per the AFP. Two of the rare cats chased and pounced on the victim as female tigers "did not allow the caretaker to retrieve Anji's body ... and were guarding it, which delayed in rushing him to a nearby hospital," park chief Santosh Kumar tells the Press Trust of India. Anji was recently hired to fill in for a staffer at the park near Bangalore, notes the AFP.
Kumar declined to comment further before an investigation is completed, but the worker's family on Sunday protested outside the park, charging park officials with negligence. They demanded the equivalent of $7,600 in compensation. It's not the first time a keeper has been attacked at Bannerghatta biological park, home to more than 1,900 animals. Lions badly wounded a keeper two years ago, per the Times. India is home to half the world's tigers with a population estimated at around 2,200, per AFP. Native to Asia, white tigers are an endangered species whose coloring is due to a recessive gene. (A tiger at a UK zoo killed a keeper in what was called a "freak accident.")