German police say three tigers attacked a Hamburg zookeeper, who remains in the hospital in critical condition.

Hamburg police said Wednesday that the 28-year-old animal handler at the private Hagenbeck Zoo tripped during a performance involving five tigers Tuesday night.

Three of the tigers clawed and bit him as he lay on the ground.

The Bild daily reports the tigers were driven back into their cages with blasts of water and the man was rushed to a hospital for treatment.

Police say the wounds are considered life-threatening.