A tiger that killed a keeper at a Cambridgeshire zoo was close to escaping into a public area, an inquest has heard.
An inquest into the death of Rosa King, who was savaged by the Malayan male named Cicip at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire, England, heard that colleagues rushed to close the gates to the enclosure before the animal could reach a public area.
A wooden gate to keep members of the public from a service area and a metal gate to keep the tiger in its paddock were left open after Rosa was attacked on May 29, 2017.
The 33-year-old suffered traumatic injuries and died at the scene, an inquest in Huntingdon was told.
Lucy Tonkin, who was on work experience at the zoo, said one keeper shouted to another to “run to close the gates as she realised they were open”.
“Some members of the public assumed they were shouting at them so they ran to the porch area of the tiger enclosure,” she said. “We then shut both gates of the tiger enclosure.”
Regular zoo visitor Frank York was in the public viewing area when he saw Ms King’s body lying in the enclosure with the tiger in the vicinity just moments after walking past a family of young children.
Taking him through his statement, Cambridgeshire assistant coroner Nicholas Moss, said: “You rushed to go and get help but on the way out you told the mum of the family that something terrible had happened and not to go further down the tunnel.
“You also told them ‘no-one go into the tunnel area, particularly children’,” before Mr York alerted zoo workers.
“You said they did everything you would expect them to do to try to keep people safe and to try to save their colleague,” Mr Moss said.
Ben McRobie, education officer at the zoo, said in a statement: “We shut the double gates and shoo-ed some members of the public away who were near those gates.”
He described throwing meat over the enclosure’s fence to try to distract Cicip while zookeeper Jamilia Achaoui said: “We had to get Cicip in his enclosure as the police were coming to shoot him.”
After the tiger moved out of the paddock and into his run she said a colleague dropped a metal slide to lock him in.
Coroner Mr Moss told Mr York that “nothing could be done… for Rosa” at the time he found her.
“You took a number of very appropriate measures,” he said. “You stopped others from seeing the scene. You made sure help was called quickly. You did everything you could.”
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