Female zookeeper dies in British zoo park in 'freak accident' involving tiger

A British zookeeper is killed by a tiger in a 'freak accident'.
Photo of Bengal tigers posted on the Hamerton Zoo Park website.
Photo of Bengal tigers posted on the Hamerton Zoo Park website. PHOTO: HAMERTON ZOO PARK

LONDON (AFP) - A female zookeeper died Monday after a tiger entered the enclosure where she was working in southeast England, with the zoo calling it a "freak accident". One visitor reported hearing "blood-curdling screams" after the incident.

A statement from police in the county of Cambridgeshire said they arrived at the scene of the "serious incident" at Hamerton Zoo Park at on Monday morning.

"A tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper. Sadly the female zookeeper died at the scene.

"At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure. The incident is not believed to be suspicious," the Cambridgeshire Constabulary said on its Facebook page, without giving further details.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Hamerton Zoo Park said the incident "appears to have been a freak accident" and that a "full investigation is currently under way and we hope that more details can be announced as soon as we are able."

"All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues' friends and families at this dreadful time," the zoo said.

The Daily Mail reported a visitor, Pete Davis, 55, saying he heard a "blood-curdling scream" after a young woman zookeeper ran into the tiger enclosure to help a colleague.

"There's no doubting it was a girl's scream and something terrible had happened. It sounds like a tiger turned on her. She had run into the enclosure after hearing one of her colleagues shouting and moments later all hell let loose," the Daily Mail said.

"She let out a blood-curdling scream and then another keeper ran out and shouted 'run'."

"It was a case of total panic. There were keepers rushing about throwing about buckets of meat to try and get the tigers under control."

No other animals escaped their enclosures and public safety was never a concern, the zoo added.

According to the zoo's website, the 25-acre park is home to Malaysian and Bengal tigers.

The zoo will be closed Tuesday.