Zookeeper fatally mauled by Siberian tiger in front of visitors

Andy Gregory
Male Tiger named Sayan in Zoo Zurich after the accident in the tiger enclosure where a keeper was killed: EPA/ENNIO LEANZA

A zookeeper in Switzerland has died after being fatally mauled by a Siberian tiger.

Colleagues rushed to the woman’s aid shortly before 1:20pm on Saturday after horrified visitors raised the alarm, luring the tiger away from her and attempting to resuscitate her, representatives for Zoo Zurich said in a statement.

“Despite immediate resuscitation measures, the 55-year-old woman was unfortunately too late to help and died on the spot,” the statement said.

Visitors and staff members are reportedly receiving counselling after witnessing the attack.

An investigation into “exactly how the tragic incident happened and why the animal keeper was in the facility at the same time as the tiger” is being carried out by the Zurich public prosecutor’s office, Zurich City Police, the Zurich Forensic Institute and the Institute of Forensic Medicine.

In a further statement on Sunday, the zoo said there would be no consequences for the five-year-old tiger, named Irina, as she was “in her usual environment”.

“The incident of yesterday Saturday is extremely tragic and Zurich Zoo is deeply affected,” the statement said. ”Nevertheless, the zoo notes that the Amur tiger is a wild animal.

“A person in their facility is an intruder into their territory. In her reaction, she only followed her natural instincts. The incident therefore has no consequences for the animal.”

Irina was born in 2015 at a zoo in Odense, Denmark, and was transferred to Zurich a year ago, Zoo Zurich director Severin Dressen told Reuters.

After a long period of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the zoo was closed “for reasons of piety” on Sunday, but will reopen on Monday.

The area around the tiger enclosure, which is also home to a four-year-old male called Sayan, will remain closed to the public, the zoo said.

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