Inquest review hearing held into death of zookeeper Rosa King who was mauled to death by a tiger at Hamerton Park Zoo

Rosa King with the tigers she loved
Rosa King with the tigers she loved

A jury will decide how a female zookeeper came to be mauled to death by a tiger at an inquest next year, a coroner said today.

Rosa King, 33, suffered "traumatic injuries" when she was attacked by eight-year-old Malayan tiger, which got into the enclosure she was working in at Hamerton Zoo Park, near Huntingdon.

Rosa King with the tigers she loved

Rosa King with the tigers she loved

The big cat, named Cicip, can still be seen at the zoo after Rosa's parents backed a public call for him to not be put down following the tragedy on Monday May 29 this year.

A hearing at Huntingdon Law Courts today, Thursday November 23, heard how an investigation is still underway between the police and the market town's local authority to establish what happened.

Chief coroner of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire David Hemming said an order to restrict the release of details of the pre-inquest review has been issued to avoid prejudice of a jury.

Mr Hemming said: "I'm a great believer in open justice but it's a jury hearing. frequent.

"It is up to the jury to find out the facts of the case and not that of the coroner."

Key people in the case of Rosa's death were also identified by the coroner who scheduled a three-day jury inquest to begin on May 21, 2018.

Rosa's father Peter King, 56, was present at the short hearing along with representatives from Huntingdonshire District Council.

He and his wife Andrea King, 54, had earlier described their daughter a "very caring, generous person" who was living her dream looking after wild animals.

A statement released by the family after her death said: "Peter and Andrea, the proud parents of Rosa King, would like to thank all those that have shown an abundance of love and sympathy at the passing of our beloved daughter.

"Rosa was a dedicated professional when it came to her work.

"She lived and breathed a vocation that meant the world to her, living her dream.

"She had a care and understanding of her animals that was a joy and privilege to behold.

"As well as our daughter, Rosa was a big sister to her brother Mark, who like his parents, had nothing but love and admiration for her.

"Rosa was passionate about animals from the age of 2 when she first sat on the back of a horse. After that, her life was always going to be about animals.

"She lived her life to the full and was a very caring, generous person."

Hamerton Zoo Park previously described the incident as a "freak accident".

A statement posted on the park's Facebook site in the weeks following the tragedy said: "We have received a number of enquiries from members of the public asking about the tiger following last weeks incident.

"After extensive consultation with the staff at the zoo, we have decided not to put down the tiger. This decision has been fully supported by Rosa's family.

"We are awaiting the findings of the investigation to fully understand what happened before we take further action on this matter. If we receive regulatory or professional guidance to the contrary, we will review our position."

Rosa's death came four years after inspectors had raised concerns over "ageing" fencing and safety barriers and "escape protocol" procedures in a 2013 report.

But a spokesman for Huntingdonshire District Council - responsible for licensing the zoo - confirmed "all of the conditions on that report were fully complied with".

The zoo's licence was renewed until in 2019.

The wildlife park opened in June 1990 and covers 25 acres.

It includes enclosures for Malaysian tigers, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, wolves, corsac foxes, kangaroos as well as a variety of birds, reptiles and domestic animals.

The zoo opened a new enclosure for its Malaysian tigers in July last year.

In October 2008 a cheetah which escaped from the park was found by a nine-year-old boy in the back garden of his family home.