Mother of zookeeper killed by tiger at Hamerton Zoo says 'She wouldn't have done anything else'

The mother of Rosa King, the zookeeper killed by a Tiger at Hamerton Zoo Park yesterday, says the work was 'what she has always loved.'

Tuesday, 30th May 2017, 1:26 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 10:14 pm
Keeper Rosa King with the tigers at Hamerton Zoo Park, pictured by the Peterborough Telegraph on World Tiger Day in 2013

Police and ambulance crews were called at around 11.15am to reports of a “serious incident” at Hamerton Zoo Park, Steeple Gidding near Huntingdon.

A tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper. Sadly Rosa King died at the scene.

This morning, Tuesday May 30, Andrea King, her mother, paid tribute to her, saying of her dedication to her job: “She wouldn’t have done anything else, it’s what she has always done, it’s what she has always loved.”

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

Ms King’s mother asked that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.

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 and air ambulance at Hamerton Zoo Park. CREDIT: Heidi Maury

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.

The scene at Hamerton Zoo this afternoon

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.”

A hastily prepared sign at Hamerton Zoo park where a fatal tiger attack took place
Police and air ambulance at Hamerton Zoo Park. CREDIT: Heidi Maury
The scene at Hamerton Zoo this afternoon