Families ‘could easily have been killed’ when tiger mauled Cambridgeshire zoo keeper to death, coroner says

A report into the tragic death of a zookeeper who was mauled to death by a tiger at a zoo near Peterborough has said children visiting the zoo could have been killed by the animal - and called for more firearms to be held at the park to stop further attacks.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 9:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 10:02 am
Rosa King

Senior carnivore keeper Rosa King (33) when she was attacked by the Malayan Tiger, Cicip, on May 29 2017 at Hamerton Zoo.

She entered the tiger enclosure when the slides between the tiger paddock and the tiger pen were open.

An inquest earlier this year recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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Now Nicholas Moss, assistant Coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has raised a number of concerns in his Report to Prevent Future Deaths.

In the report he said there was a ‘very serious risk of casualties and fatalities to the visiting public’ as a result of the open gates.

He said: “The metal gate and the wooden gate were both open. For a period of not less than 15 minutes, and possibly as long as an hour and 20 minutes, Cicip could simply have walked out of the tiger enclosure into the public areas where families with children had already been admitted.”

He added: “It was thus largely by chance, and by the action of a zoo visitor and members of staff (the staff acted quickly to close both gates when Rosa’s body was eventually seen at about 11am that morning) that the risk of multiple casualties/fatalities did not, in fact, materialise.

“Members of the public including children had congregated by the open wooden gate. They could easily have been killed.

“A tiger secure double gate entry system into the tiger paddock would very likely have prevented the risk of public casualties/fatalities.”

Mr Moss also raised concerns about the lack of ‘conventional firearms’ held at the zoo.

He said: “Cicip was enticed back into his den by zoo staff, and in the event did not need to be killed.
“At the time of the accident, however, the zoo did not possess any conventional firearms. By historic arrangements with the police, the zoo relied on police firearms officers attending should a firearm be needed to shoot an escaped tiger.

“The only firearm at the zoo was a form of dart gun which is of limited range and which, even if successfully deployed, would take some time (in the order of 15 minutes) for the medication to be administered to incapacitate the tiger.”

Mr Moss said there was no guarantee of firearms officers being in the vicinity of the ‘rural’ zoo.

Two members of staff have now been trained to use firearms - however the zoo itself has not yet been approved to hold firearms - and he was concerned that two staff members was not enough to guarantee one trained member of staff would be on site at all times when it was open.

The report confirmed that the zoo had now fitted ‘double airlock’ gates at the tiger enclosures. Hamerton has also changed its procedures for keepers when working with tigers, including a radio call system to ensure the gates are secured.

Hamerton Zoo made no comment about the report when approached by The Peterborough Telegraph.