Tributes paid to keeper killed in zoo tragedy

Keeper Rosa King with the tigers at Hamerton Zoo Park, pictured by the Peterborough Telegraph on World Tiger Day in 2013

Keeper Rosa King with the tigers at Hamerton Zoo Park, pictured by the Peterborough Telegraph on World Tiger Day in 2013

Tributes have been paid to a keeper killed in a “freak accident” after a tiger entered the enclosure she was in at Hammerton Zoo near Peterborough.

Rosa King, who has been named in reports as the Hamerton Zoo Park keeper who died on Monday, was passionate about the animals in her care, a friend said.

Police at Hamerton Zoo where a keeper died after a 'freak accident' involving a big cat

Police at Hamerton Zoo where a keeper died after a 'freak accident' involving a big cat

Garry Chisholm, 59, a wildlife photographer in his spare time who knew Ms King through visiting the attraction in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, said the zoo revolved around the keeper.

Mr Chisholm, from Irchester, Northamptonshire, told the Press Association: “Rosa wasn’t just a keeper at Hamerton Zoo - she was Hamerton Zoo.

“She was the absolute central point of it, the focal point of it. She was the shining light of it. It revolved around her.”

Police were called at 11.15am yesterday (Monday, May 30) to reports of a serious incident at the zoo.

Hamerton Zoo park

Hamerton Zoo park

A Magpas air ambulance was on the scene 20 minutes later and visitors were evacuated from the attraction.

An East of England Ambulance Service paramedic crew and two rapid response vehicles also attended.

A Cambridgeshire Police statement said: “Officers attended a serious incident at Hamerton Zoo Park, Steeple Girding, at around 11.15am.

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

A hastily prepared sign at Hamerton Zoo park where a fatal tiger attack took place

A hastily prepared sign at Hamerton Zoo park where a fatal tiger attack took place

“At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure. The incident is not believed to be suspicious.”

Mr Chisholm said on his Facebook page: “Her passion for the animals in her care was exceptional though her favourites were undoubtedly the cheetahs which she would refer to as her pride and joy.

“Rosa would raise money for cheetah conservation by actively taking part in parachute jumps and I was delighted when she approached me asking if she could use one of my pictures to promote her money raising campaign.

“I feel privileged to have known Rosa and been able to call her a friend. She will be greatly missed, not just by me but by everyone who came to know her. The only consolation I can take from todays tragic events is that Rosa is now reunited with her beloved Ares the cheetah and Blizzard and Ladybelle her beloved tigers.”.”

The zoo said the tragedy appeared to have been caused by a “freak accident” and it would remain closed today (Tuesday,May 30) as an investigation continues.

In a statement posted on the park’s website today, it said: “This appears to have been a freak accident.

“The Park will be closed, as a full investigation is currently underway, and we hope that more details can be announced as soon as we are able.

“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.”