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Vietnamese man attacked by tiger in private zoo

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Hanoi (AFP)

A tiger kept in a private zoo in Vietnam ripped off the hand and arm of a former employee, a local official said Wednesday.

Only a handful of the big cats roam wild in Vietnam's jungles but hundreds are kept as pets and in zoos across the country.

Vo Thanh Quoi, 49, was found next to the tiger's cage at the Thanh Canh private zoo in southern Binh Duong province on Tuesday, an official who declined to be named told AFP.

"The park has been closed to the public for some time," he said.

Speaking from a hospital bed in a video published by state-run Tuoi Tre news, Quoi said the tiger bit his hand and went for the other one when he tried to rescue the first.

It was not clear what prompted the attack.

A doctor at the hospital said the tiger took off Quoi's left hand, wrist and most of his right arm.

But the bleeding was stopped and "the critical period is over," doctor Nguyen Tan Hung told the state-run outlet.

It is the second recorded tiger attack in three years in the province, where several farms raise the animals as pets, according to local media.

With official permission, raising tigers as pets is legal in Vietnam, and there are an estimated 240 kept in homes and zoos across the country according to Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) conservation group.

Vietnam is better known for its consumption of tiger remains in traditional medicine, as well as the use of tigers' teeth and claws for jewellery.

Their bones are commonly boiled down and mixed with rice wine to make an elixir believed to treat arthritis and promote strength, which scientists have disputed.

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