Female zookeeper, 55, is killed by Siberian tiger at Swiss zoo

Female zookeeper, 55, is killed by Siberian tiger at Swiss zoo as probe is launched into why she was in the enclosure at the same time as the big cat

  • An alarm was reportedly raised after horrified visitors witnessed the attack
  • Other zookeepers were able to lure the tiger away, but assistance was too late
  • The zoo said an investigation has been launched into the ‘tragic incident’
  • Zoo Zurich had only recently reopened after being closed due to the coronavirus

A keeper at a zoo in Switzerland’s biggest city has been killed by one of the park’s Siberian tigers on Saturday.

Horrified visitors raised the alarm after seeing the tiger attack the female keeper. 

Zoo Zurich said an internal alarm was sounded at 1.20pm (11.20 GMT) that the 55-year-old keeper had been attacked in the tiger enclosure, prompting staff members to rush to her aid.

The other keepers were able to lure the Siberian tiger – an Amur tigress named Irina – away from their colleague and out of the enclosure.

First responders tried to revive the woman but she died at the scene.

Horrified visitors raised the alarm after seeing the tiger attack the female keeper at 1.20pm local time on Saturday, but first responders were unable to save the zookeeper

Horrified visitors raised the alarm after seeing the tiger attack the female keeper at 1.20pm local time on Saturday, but first responders were unable to save the zookeeper

It is currently not clear why the events unfolded at the zoo, where police officers were seen in the aftermath. The enclosure was cordoned off.

The Zurich zoo hosts two adult Amur tigers – a four-and-a-half-year-old male called Sayan and five-year-old Irina.

The zoo said an investigation has been launched into the ‘tragic incident’, including why the keeper was in the enclosure at the same time as the tiger.

The investigation will reportedly include the Zurich public prosecutor’s office, the Zurich city police, the Zurich Forensic Institute and the Institute for Forensic Medicine. 

The zoo cordoned off the enclosure on Saturday, pictured above, after the attack. An investigation has been launched into why the zookeeper was in the enclosure with the tiger

The zoo cordoned off the enclosure on Saturday, pictured above, after the attack. An investigation has been launched into why the zookeeper was in the enclosure with the tiger

The Siberian tiger was born in 2015 at a zoo in the Danish city of Odense and transferred to Zurich a year ago, according to Zoo Zurich director Severin Dressen, pictured right. The tiger behaved normally, he said

The Siberian tiger was born in 2015 at a zoo in the Danish city of Odense and transferred to Zurich a year ago, according to Zoo Zurich director Severin Dressen, pictured right. The tiger behaved normally, he said

‘Sadly all help came too late. The woman died at the scene,’ Zurich police spokeswoman Judith Hoedl said.  

The Siberian tiger was born in 2015 at a zoo in the Danish city of Odense and transferred to Zurich a year ago, according to Zoo Zurich director Severin Dressen. The tiger behaved normally, he said.

‘Our full sympathy is with the relatives of the victim,’ Dressen said, adding that the keeper had been a long-term member of the zoo staff. 

The Zurich zoo hosts two adult Amur tigers - a four-and-a-half-year-old male called Sayan and five-year-old Irina - who is believed to have attacked the zookeeper. Above, Director Severin Dressen (L) speaks at the media conference on the accident

The Zurich zoo hosts two adult Amur tigers – a four-and-a-half-year-old male called Sayan and five-year-old Irina – who is believed to have attacked the zookeeper. Above, Director Severin Dressen (L) speaks at the media conference on the accident

Visitors and colleagues who witnessed the attack were receiving psychological counseling, he said. 

The zoo, which only recently reopened following a coronavirus-related shutdown, will remain closed on Sunday.

It’s not the first time an attack has been reported at Zoo Zurich. In December 2019, a crocodile grabbed a zookeepers arm arm during a routine enclosure cleaning.

The keeper had to undergo surgery for the resulting injury, and the crocodile was shot. 

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