Hamerton Zoo tiger death: Police are now investigating – BBC News

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Hamerton Zoo tiger death: Police are now investigating – BBC News

Rosa King pictured in 2016
Image caption Rosa King, a keeper at Hamerton Zoo Park, died after a tiger entered the enclosure she was in

Police have confirmed they are now investigating the death of a zookeeper killed by a tiger.

Rosa King, 34, died at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire at about 11:15 BST on Monday.

Police attended the scene, but on Tuesday morning said Ms King’s death was “non suspicious” and they were not investigating.

They have now said while the “circumstances” are not suspicious, her death is still “unexplained”.

A joint investigation by police and Huntingdonshire District Council – which is responsible for licensing the zoo – is under way.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokeswoman said the decision to collaborate on the case had been made on Tuesday afternoon.

More news from Cambridgeshire

A spokesman for the zoo said it was “co-operating fully with the investigation”.

Image copyright Hamerton Zoo Park/Facebook
Image caption Rosa King looked after the carnivores at the zoo

The district council said: “Both the police and the council are working together within routine protocols to progress investigations into the incident as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Peter Davis, who was at the zoo with his family when the tragedy occurred, said when they were told to evacuate the area he and others sheltered in a room near the enclosure.

He said: “As we came out, we were sort of ushered further away, but we were still looking at what was going on, and you could obviously see the keepers all distressed, not really knowing what to do, heads in their hands.

“A couple of them were throwing meat over the enclosure to try and entice the tiger away, but it was going on probably for 10 to 15 minutes.”

Ms King, who is understood to be from Chippenham, in Wiltshire, was dedicated to her job at the zoo where she had worked for 14 years, her mother said on Tuesday.

“She wouldn’t have done anything else, it’s what she has always done,” her mother Andrea King said.

Image caption Floral tributes have been left at the gates of the zoo

The tiger that killed Ms King has not been put down and was unharmed, police said on Tuesday.

In an earlier statement released by Hamerton Zoo Park on the day of the incident, the zoo described it as a “freak accident”, adding: “At no point during the incident did any animals escape their enclosures and at no point was public safety affected in any way.”

When the zoo was inspected by district council officials in 2012, concerns were raised about “escape protocol” and damaged fencing, as The Telegraph reported.

The inspection report seen by the BBC mentioned the need to “review, repair and replace [an] ageing/damaged perimeter fence where the structural integrity of the fence is compromised” and said “the escape protocol should be amended to to categorise animals of varying sizes”.

“Reliance on mobile phones… in an emergency” was also highlighted, and the zoo advised to implement a system whereby all staff could be “contacted simultaneously”.

Chris Draper, associate director for animal welfare at the Born Free Foundation, said of the report’s findings: “While there are some concerns, it is impossible to say whether there is anything here that directly relates to what happened on Monday.”

Image copyright Heidi Maury
Image caption An air ambulance landed at the wildlife park but there were no other injuries

A district council spokeswoman said she “cannot confirm whether this is the latest inspection report, nor… whether the findings within that report have been complied with” as the officers dealing with the case were unavailable.

The BBC has asked Hamerton Park Zoo to comment on the inspection.

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