Tiger bites Chinese girl's head off as she poses for photograph

A tiger bit a 6-year-old girl to death as the child and her family posed for a photo with the big cat, state media said Friday.

The girl, identified only as Ruixin, was standing behind the tiger with her mother and four other relatives when it suddenly turned on her Thursday at a zoo in Yunnan province, the AP quotes Xinhua News Agency.

The local Chuncheng Evening News reported on its Web site that the tiger attacked the girl after the flash went off on her uncle's camera. The tiger's paw shot out and grabbed Ruixin, pulling her head into its mouth, it said.

Five zoo staff beat the tiger with wooden sticks and a bench until it released the girl after about a minute. The tiger also bit Ruixin's mother's hand as she struggled to save her daughter, the newspaper reported.

Ruixin died at a local hospital, Xinhua said.

The tiger was one of six that perform at a circus in the zoo. The photo service, which cost tourists 15 yuan (US$2; EUR 1), has been suspended, it said.

Phones at the Yuantongshan Zoo in Yunnan's capital of Kunming, where the attack occurred, rang unanswered Friday.

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