Lion bites off man's finger at Jamaica Zoo as horrified guests watch on

A horrifying video has captured the moment a Jamaica zookeeper lost his finger in a battle with a caged lion in front of park visitors.

The footage, which has been posted to Twitter and watched more than 4 million times, shows the man poking his hands through the bars of the cage to taunt the animal in a bid to impress onlookers.

The plan goes wayward moments later as the animal clamps its jaw around the worker's fingers.

The man can be seen swearing and screaming as he struggles to break free from the lion's grasp, and horrified visitors at the Jamaica Zoo, near Santa Cruz in St Elizabeth, Jamaica, watch on helplessly.

After repeated attempts to pull away, the keeper finally wrenches himself free and falls to the ground — but loses a finger in the process.

In the final moments of the video, a finger tendon can be seen falling off the lion's mouth and onlookers gasp in shock.

A witness told the Jamaica Observer they thought the attack was a joke until the man fell to the ground. "I didn't realise the seriousness of it because it's their job to put on a show," she said.

"Obviously, when he fell on the ground everybody realised that it was serious. Everybody started to panic." She said the injury was "graphic".

"The entire skin and about the first joint of his finger was gone." Jamaica Zoo officials described the incident as "tragic" and said they were reviewing footage to prevent any future recurrences.

"The Management and Staff here at Jamaica Zoo wishes to reassure the public that we pride ourselves on the love, care and professional treatment our animals receive," officials said in a statement released on Sunday.

"The actions displayed in a video by a contractor to Jamaica Zoo, is tragic and do not represent the safety procedures and policies that must be adhered to at all times at Jamaica Zoo.

"It is an unfortunate event that should have never happened, and we the family of Jamaica Zoo are doing everything to assist the gentleman in moving forward."