Girl Killed by Lion at NZP

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The mauling death of a 2 year old girl, snatched into a cage by a lion, spurs an inspection of the entire National Zoological Park facility. The resulting 20-page report outlines building renovations and increases in the numbers of keepers and police on staff. The Annual Report for 1958 reports that the study was conducted to "eliminate any danger points on the buildings and grounds" and that wire mesh was placed on guard rails. This incident is the first visitor fatality since 1908, when record-keeping of visitors was first implemented. From 1908 approximately 115,000,000 people had visited the Zoo "without one instance of serious injury."


  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • Office of Protective Services)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Mergen, Alexa. From Bison to Biopark: 100 Years of the National Zoo. Washington, D.C.: Friends of the National Zoo, 1989.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1958, p. 178

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


May 16, 1958


  • Animals
  • Lions
  • Accidents

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