US doctor Henry Heimlich, who invented the manoeuvre used to help victims of choking, has died aged 96 after getting lodged in the throat of a lion who was attempting to eat him.
Dr Heimlich expired in the Lion Enclosure of Cincinnati Zoo late on Saturday night after undertaking an ill-advised bet that he could perform his manoeuvre on an actual lion before the age of 97.
Spectators watched in horror as ‘Ralph’, a 400-lb Kalahari lion seized a clearly drunk Heimlich in its jaws and attempted to swallow him whole. Tragically, the former doctor proved too large to fit comfortably down the animal’s throat, leading to the death of both Heimlich and Ralph.
“It’s what he would have wanted,” sobbed a friend. “Being the actual object which caused a fatal choking incident, it’s just so appropriate, somehow.”
“I imagine his only regret would have been that there wasn’t actually anyone around to perform his manoeuvre on the lion. But you can’t have everything.”
Dr Heimlich invented the lifesaving technique, which uses abdominal thrusts to clear a person’s airway, in 1974.
Ralph roamed the Kalahari bushland for twelve years and perfected the process of carrying away small animals and pets from isolated villages.
Dr Heimlich’s manoeuvre was used by comedian David Walliams to save the life of Simon Cowell, after Cowell nearly choked on a mint. Despite this, Heimlich is fondly remembered and will be sadly missed.