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Cambridgeshire zoo where tiger mauled keeper ‘was told to improve health and safety’ | UK News

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A zoo where a keeper was killed by a tiger had been ordered to improve the way health and safety was managed, an inquest has heard.

Rosa King, 33, was cleaning the windows of the enclosure at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire when she was mauled by a Malayan male called Cicip on 29 May 2017.

Giving evidence on the first day of a two-week inquest into her death, park director Andrew Swales said the local authority had handed the zoo an improvement notice in 2013.

Friends say Rosa King was 'absolutely passionate' about the animals in her care
Image:
Friends say Ms King was ‘absolutely passionate’ about the animals in her care

Inspections had been carried out in subsequent years, but coroner Nicholas Moss noted there had been an “absence of inspection in 2016 when there should have been one”.

Mr Swales told the inquest jury that the enclosure that housed the two Malayan tigers had been constructed between 2013 and 2016.

Ms King had worked at the zoo for 13 years and at the time of her death she was a senior carnivore keeper, responsible for the big cats.

She worked 45 hours a week during the summer months and also worked some overtime.

Rosa King (R) with Sir David Attenborough in 2014
Image:
Ms King (right) with Sir David Attenborough in 2014

The coroner told the jury the alarm was raised by a visitor, Frank York, who saw Ms King’s body in the tiger enclosure.

She had been working alone and entered the enclosure shortly before the zoo opened to the public at 10am.

The park was soon evacuated and paramedics and police – including firearms officers – were called, but the tiger did not need to be shot as keepers were able to coax him back into his run.

Ms King’s family also supported the decision not to put the animal down.

Rosa King with a colleague in costume and one of the zoo's tigers
Image:
Ms King with a colleague in costume and one of the zoo’s tigers

The jury was shown images of steel sliding gates used to control the movement of the tigers within their enclosure. The coroner said that “immediately after the attack”, the slide intended to separate the main paddock that Ms King was cleaning from a run leading to the tiger house was found to be open.

The two gates used by keepers to access the paddock, one wooden and one metal, were also both open.

“We’re going to need to explore how that happened and what the reason for that was,” Mr Swales said.

He added that a police investigation “suggested there was not any mechanical fault with the gates and slides”.

Andrea King (left) said her daughter 'followed her dreams'
Image:
Andrea King (left) said her daughter ‘followed her dreams’

Fighting back tears, Ms King’s mother Andrea King told the jury that her daughter was a “generous, kind, caring, compassionate person who lived life to the full and followed her dreams”.

She said it was clear her daughter would end up working with animals from the age of two, when she began horse riding.

She described Rosa as “knowledgeable about all the animals in her care”, adding: “It wasn’t very often you wouldn’t see her with a smile on her face.”

The inquest is due to last two weeks.

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