An eight year-old girl has been mauled to death by a tiger after she sneaked into their cage for a closer look at the big cats.

The tiger pounced when the little girl crept into the cage

The tiger pounced when the little girl crept into the cage

The little girl had been on a visit to Leheledu Amusement Park while she and her family were visiting relatives in China’s South-Western Chongqing region.

Eight year-old Juan Niu approached the tiger cage and was able to slip through the bars; once she was inside the cage, she was pounced on by one of the big cats and mauled while horrified park visitors watched helplessly.

The tigers were were of a travelling circus that the park management had hired to entertain visitors to the park; the animals were being housed in temporary pens and it was to one of these that the eight year-old managed to gain access.

Animal trainers were quickly on the scene and managed to rescue the child, but she was barely alive and declared dead on her arrival at hospital.

A spokesman for the park said they were taking steps; Manchu Hung said: “Nothing terrible like this has ever happened before and we take the safety of our visitors very seriously.

The tigers were part of a travelling circus

The tigers were part of a travelling circus

“We will pay all compensation necessary to the family and will make sure it’s not possible for anything similar to ever happen again.”