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May 31st 2017
The owners of a zoo where a keeper was mauled to death by a tiger were warned about their ageing barriers four years ago.
Rosa King, 34, was killed when a tiger entered the enclosure where she was working at Hamerton Zoo in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
The zoo, which described the incident as a “freak accident", was heavily criticised in an inspection by officials in 2013 that forced it to make improvements.
One visitor described hearing a scream then being ordered to run from the scene and locking themselves in a nearby room during Monday's attack.
He said that when members of the public emerged 10 minutes later they saw staff throwing meat over the wall of the enclosure to “try to get the tiger to come away”.
Documents seen by the Daily Telegraph, show that inspectors were concerned about the zoo’s “ageing safety barriers” and perimeter fencing as well as their escape procedures not being tailored to the risk poised by different animals.
The inspectors reported that the communications system the zoo had in place were “not sufficient” and needed to be upgraded.
It was only granted a new licence on the condition it introduced the changes. It is believed these improvements were made.
The report said: “The inspectors consider that reliance on mobiles to communicate in an emergency is not sufficient and the system needs to be upgraded to ensure that all relevant staff can be contacted simultaneously”.
It ordered the zoo to “review and replace ageing safety barriers where the structural integrity of the barrier is compromised” and “review, repair and replace ageing/damaged perimeter fence where the structural integrity of the fence is compromised.”
The incident has raised concerns about the way zoos are being run as the case echoes that of Sarah McClay, 24, who was killed when a tiger broke into the staff area at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria in 2013.
It later emerged nearly 500 animals had died in four years, some from starvation, and Barrow-in-Furness Council turned down an application to renew its licence made by founder David Gill.
Controversially earlier this month the council agreed to allow the zoo a new licence under the management of a newly formed company, Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, run by Karen Brewer – who had also served as chief executive under Mr Gill.
Following the incident the Born Free Foundation issued a statement on Facebook saying Ms King’s death highlighted the danger of keeping wild animals in captivity.
It said: “It has now been confirmed that zookeeper, Rosa King, has sadly been killed by a tiger in circumstances that are currently unclear.
“Our thoughts are with the staff member's family and colleagues.
“The tragic news is hauntingly reminiscent of the death of a keeper at South Lakes Safari Zoo four years ago,and further highlights the dangers involved when keeping wild animals in captivity.”
The Independent has tried to contact Hamerton Zoo about the allegations but in a statement issued yesterday it said they did not wish to speak directly to the media.
It said: “We are sorry but our staff are too distressed to speak directly to the media, as one of our colleagues was killed at Hamerton Zoo Park, this morning.
“This appears to have been a freak accident.
“The Park will be closed from tomorrow (30 May), 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.”
March 13th 2017
Parents revealed today how they were told to “grab your kids and run” after a cheetah escaped from its enclosure at a safari park.
The animal was on the loose for nearly half an hour at the Port Lympne Reserve in Kent on Sunday afternoon after climbing out during feeding time.
Alice Stittle, from London, was visiting the park near Hythe with her husband James and their friends Victoria and Mariano Quijada and their two young children Ruby and Diego.
Mrs Stittle, editor of Things & Ink magazine, said visitors were told to hide in a gift shop and the lavatories until the cheetah was captured.
She said: “We were about to go home and were walking back to the entrance when one of the zookeepers ran over in a panic. He told us, ‘Grab your kids and run. A cheetah’s escaped and it’s on the loose.’
“There was no room at the gift shop, so we had to hide in the ladies’ toilets. It seemed haphazard. The kids thought it was amazing and kept trying to poke their heads out to see.
“After about 15 minutes, Mariano went to ask the zookeepers if we could leave and he was told we could walk to our car very quickly as the cheetah was on the other side of the park, but before we got out the cheetah was apparently tempted back into his enclosure with a chicken.”
Maggie Jones 38, from Maidstone, who was at the safari park with husband Gary, 39, and their children Danielle, 11, and Harry, 13, said: “It was pretty scary. Word quickly spread that a big cat was on the loose and parents were shooing their children into the shops and even into the toilets.
“Everyone was looking round nervously in case it was about to jump out on us. They reassured us it was harmless, but none of the mums and dads were taking any chances. Apparently, it got out of its enclosure and was on the loose where they take safari buses full of people.”
A spokesman for Port Lympne said a “full escape procedure” had been launched at 4.30pm.
In a statement, animal director Adrian Harland said there had been “no real threat” to guests and said: “He only climbed out to get back with his mother after having been separated to stop him eating all her dinner. The cheetah was calm and pacing the enclosure fence, looking to get back in.
“Some food was thrown into the enclosure and the cheetah walked back in to get it. No vet intervention was needed.
“We have secured the enclosure’s perimeter fencing to ensure that the cheetah cannot climb out again.”
You should take particular care during zoo-visits, visiting any zoo or park where they are allowed to roam freely, they can be very territorial and are unpredictable especially if they have their young ones with them, if they feel at all threatened, they are very dangerous, if it happens to be their breeding season take extra care, they have their moods and their senses are much keener than humans.
Canines have a sense of smell that is many times more acute than humans, predators that fly such as owls and eagles have remarkable eyesight and those big ears on bats enable their hearing to be superb.
There are attacks in zoos reported practically every weekHome Page - Animal - zoo-visits