Rosa King: Cambridgeshire zookeeper killed by tiger is named

Hamerton Zoo Park says investigation under way and stresses that at no point did any animals escape their enclosures

The zookeeper killed by a tiger at a Cambridgeshire animal park has been named as Rosa King, aged 33.

Officers said they attended a serious incident at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire on Monday morning and that the female zookeeper died at the scene. The tiger entered the enclosure King was working in, with zoo management describing it as a “freak accident”.

“At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure,” said a Cambridgeshire police station. “The incident is not believed to be suspicious.”

Visitors were evacuated from the zoo at Steeple Gidding, amid rumours that a tiger was on the loose. But a spokesman for the attraction told the Guardian the incident did not involve an escaped animal.

Police confirmed that was the case, adding that no members of the public were in danger. The air ambulance service also attended the incident, which happened at about 11.15am.

Hamerton Zoo Park locator map

In a statement the zoo said: “We are sorry but our staff are too distressed to speak directly to the media as one of our colleagues was killed this morning. This appears to be a freak accident.

“A full investigation is currently under way and we hope that more details can be announced as soon as possible. At no point during the incident did any animals escape their enclosures and at no point was public safety affected in any way.

“All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues, friends and families at this dreadful time.” The zoo confirmed it would remain closed on Tuesday as investigations into the incident continue.

One witness, Jeff Knott, from Cambridgeshire, said staff had been “a real credit” to the zoo during the evacuation. The 32-year-old told reporters: “We had been in the zoo since about 10.30am and heard/seen nothing until asked to leave about 11.45am. Staff were very calm and professional. All visitors around us were leaving in a very calm manner – no running, shouting or anything similar.”

Other witnesses posted pictures online of the emergency services. Jessica Russell tweeted: “I shouldn’t leave the house … Try to go to Hamerton zoo and all hell breaks loose. Evacuated and air ambulance/police/ambulances.” She later expressed her sympathy for the zookeeper’s family.The park took its first pair of Bengal tigers in 2001 and also keeps Malayan tigers in its Land of the Tiger attraction. The animals are kept in a house and paddock area. Visitors can see into the shelter through glass windows.

The zoo was briefly closed earlier this year when a fire burned down a stable block that was home to goats and rabbits.

At the time, the zoo said: “Staff managed to rescue the rabbits and goats before the fire took hold and we were able to move all the parrots once the firefighters had the fire under control, and are now under veterinary supervision,” the Hunts Post reported.


Alice Ross and Kevin Rawlinson

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