A KEEPER mauled by a tiger was spotted lying dead by a visitor to the zoo, an inquest has heard.
Rosa King, 33, was cleaning inside the tiger enclosure when she was attacked by a Malayan male called Cicip.
Frank York was in the public viewing area at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire when he saw her lifeless body and raised the alarm.
Immediately after the attack, two gates and a metal vertical slide, designed to ensure staff and tigers were not in the paddock at the same time, were found open, assistant coroner Nicholas Moss said.
Ms King, an experienced keeper who had worked at the zoo for 13 years, died in the enclosure on May 29, 2017.
She had entered on her own shortly before the zoo opened to the public at 10am. Cicip ‘would tend to urinate on the windows during the day so they need to be cleaned so the public have a good view’, Mr Moss said.
After Ms King’s body was discovered, keepers fetched the zoo’s tranquilliser gun, while armed officers and paramedics attended. Neither the tranquilliser nor police firearms were used.
Keepers ‘were able to entice Cicip back into his run and the slide was closed behind him to make the area safe again’, Mr Moss said, adding: ‘It had been apparent from as soon as Rosa was seen that she had died.’
Her many injuries included cuts and puncture wounds.
A police investigation suggested there was not any mechanical fault with the gates and slides. Mr Moss said the inquest will hear whether the system in use ‘allowed protection against human error by the zookeeper who was in the tiger area’. Wiping away tears, Ms King’s mum, Andrea, told how her daughter had ‘followed her dreams’ from the age of two to work with animals.
The Huntingdon inquest continues.