Co-worker tells jury Rosa King was always “a very safe keeper”

The inquest is being held at Huntingdon Town Hall

The inquest is being held at Huntingdon Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A colleague of Rosa King told the inquest jury that she was a “very good keeper” and was always “very safe and careful” when dealing with animals.

Amy Beardmore works at Hamerton Zoo as a 'cover keeper' and told the inquest today (Wednesday) how her and Rosa were "more than just colleagues" and were "very close friends" outside of work.

She told the hearing that on the morning of May 29, 2017, Rosa seemed "her usual self", and was "smiling and laughing" in the kitchen, before she went out to see the tigers.

Asked about the scene when she arrived, Ms Beardmore explained that she took on the job, alongside Frank York, a member of the public, of redirecting people.

She said that within minutes of getting there, they had started to close the zoo and members of staff were taking people to safety.

She told the inquest how they believed Rosa "was already dead".

Ms Beardmore said: "We didn't know what to do".

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The jury then heard how Ms Beardmore called the owner of the zoo Andrew Swales and asked what she should do and if she should call the police.

When asked by coroner, Nichols Moss if she should have called the police straight away, Ms Beardmore said: "Now I know I should have done that, but at the time I was in shock."

Mr Moss then asked: "Would it have been your sole responsibility to check where the tiger was and if it was isolated."

Ms Beardmore answered: "Yes".

The inquest then briefly heard from Rosa's mother, Andrea King, who explained that Rosa loved her job, and was excited about volunteering to look after a baby serval cat, which is a wild animal that had been abandoned by its mother.

She said that Rosa was never forced to look after the cat, but enjoyed doing it, and would sometimes get up three time during the night to feed the cat when it was her turn.

Mrs King said: "When this cat was discovered, she told me about it and she was so excited about it. Because she was living on site, she wasn't allowed pets, but this was a bit of companionship for her.

"She loved it and loved looking after it."

Rosa, 33, died from "traumatic injuries" on the morning of May 29, 2017, after a Malayan tiger attacked her in a paddock area while she was cleaning the windows of a visitor viewing area. A post-mortem examination, read out at the inquest, revealed she suffered multiple lacerations, abrasions and puncture wounds to her neck and right arm and her cervical spine was severed after she was mauled by the male tiger called Cicip.