Mauro Lagiard, 72, was attacked from behind while his wife Carla, 73, could only watch from outside the enclosure as the animals dragged his body into a clearing
A retired zookeeper was torn to pieces and eaten by at least three of his tigers as he tried to feed them.
Mauro Lagiard, 72, was attacked from behind while his wife Carla, 73, could only watch from outside the enclosure.
The beasts dragged Mr Lagiard’s lifeless body 100 feet into a clearing.
Alpha-male Samir started the horrific mauling as the pensioner tried to feed the tigers chicken meatballs on Tuesday night.
Two others joined in while five cubs watched from the sidelines.
It took paramedics half an hour to get close to his dismembered body.
Mr Lagiard was devoted to Samir even though he also attacked him two years ago. He was in hospital for eight months.
Yesterday his wife still refused to blame the tigers. She said: “My husband and Samir did not get on. If I had gone it would never have happened.”
But neighbours said the animals were only fed twice a week and had become aggressive.
The couple had always been big cat lovers and originally kept tigers and leopards at a villa outside Turin, Italy.
But neighbours complained and the cats were moved to the Martinat Oasis animal sanctuary.
The couple continued to look after the beasts, living in a camper van nearby, after it shut in 2010.
A keeper who had worked there with the couple said Mr Lagiard was very sure of himself.
He said: “He never took any precautions. He went in, he gave them their food and he left. He had no fear, even though in the past he had been attacked by the tigers.”
The cats are currently in the care of vets while their fate is decided.