Coroner warned of “future deaths” at zoo if measures aren’t taken

Rosa King

Rosa King - Credit: Archant

A coroner has warned that there could be a ‘risk of future deaths’ at the zoo site where a keeper was mauled to death if urgent measures aren’t taken.

The assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Nicolas Moss has raised a number of safety concerns following the inquest into the death Rosa King, keeper at Hamerton Zoo who died after being attacked by tiger at the park.

The inquest into the 33 year old senior carnivore keeper was held in July, and a jury concluded that the death was accidental.

During six day inquest, the jury heard that Rosa suffered traumatic injuries after she was mauled by the zoo's male Malayan tiger named Cicip on May 29, 2017.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Rosa had multiple lacerations, abrasions and puncture wounds to her neck and right arm and her cervical spine had been severed.

The Prevention of Future Deaths report, which was written on July 12, raises concerns including conventional firearms, keepers working hours and the absence of air-lock gates.

Mr Moss has said that "there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action in taken".

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The first concern raised is in relation to the zoo not having access to conventional firearms, which could be used if an animal escapes from an enclosure.

"I am concerns that the zoo still does not currently have access to conventional firearms to shoot a tiger in that situation to preserve human life. I heard evidence that the zoo has taken measures for two members of staff to obtain firearms' licences and they have received firearms training," said Mr Moss in the report.

It also states that the zoo has not yet been approved as premises to hold firearms, which wrests with the firearms licensing department at Cambridgeshire police.

The report said: "I am concerned that more than two years after Rosa's death, the process of the zoo obtaining conventional firearms has still not been completed. This carries a risk of further deaths".

Mr Moss has said that he hopes that the Zoo continue to work with the police to "speed up the steps necessary for the zoo to obtain firearms".

Another concerned raised was regarding the absence of air-lock type double keeper gates to the tiger paddock.

The report said: "I am concerned that simple human error on the part of safety-conscious experienced zoo keeper led to a situation whereby a tiger could have attacked multiple members of the visiting public. Double keeper gates to the paddock would very likely have prevented this risk."

However, air-lock type gates at the entrances to the tiger enclosures have now been fitted at the zoo.

Another concern raised by Mr Moss was the voluntary work from members of staff, including Rosa to hand-rear serval kittens during the night.

In the report Mr Moss said: "I heard evidence that it was left to the keepers themselves to raise it if they felt they were getting too tired. I heard evidence that Rosa and other keepers found hand-rearing animals extremely rewarding and that they were happy to do it."

However Mr Moss said that her fatigue could have contributed to the risk of human error.