It has been a deadly few days for zookeepers working with tigers at two separate facilities.
The Palm Beach Zoo in Florida said its lead zookeeper, Stacey Konwiser, died Friday after a male Malayan tiger attacked her in the tiger night house, which out of public view and where the animals feed and sleep.
“Konwiser was preparing the night house for the evening routine, which includes cleaning and feeding,” general curator Jan Steele, said in a statement.
“Konwiser came to the zoo three years ago from the Living Desert Museum & Zoo. She had extensive experience in managing large cats. She earned an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke and a master’s degree from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia,” the zoo said in a statement.
The 38-year-old was airlifted to hospital from the zoo, but didn’t recover from her injuries. The zoo, West Palm Beach police and government agencies are all investigating.
Konwiser’s husband, Jeremy, also a zookeeper at the facility also issued a statement.
“Please thank everyone for their support and kind words. This is a tragic and traumatic event for the zoo family but together we can help each other heal. Human beings and animals lost a wonderful friend.”
It’s the first human death at the zoo.
The male tiger involved has recovered from a tranquilizer and will remain at the facility, the zoo said over the weekend. The zoo will also reopen Monday.
Meanwhile, a white tiger also killed its keeper at an El Salvador zoo on Friday. The big cat escaped, but was soon recaptured.
“It was a horrible situation,” police inspector Mario Macal told AFP. “It looks like the keeper wasn’t following safety protocols as he fed the white tiger and it attacked him, causing serious injuries that caused his death.”
FURESA Wildlife Refuge Foundation, which is located outside Jayaque not far from the capital San Salvador, said the facility is mourning the death of zookeeper Manuel De Jesus Jaco Carranza.
It also posted on Facebook that media have been given misinformation about what happened. FURESA said it has improved the barriers around its 100 species in order to further protect the safety of visitors.
Meanwhile, at the Toronto Zoo on the weekend, a woman was captured on video after jumping fence at the tiger enclosure.
The woman hopped into part of the endangered Sumatran tiger’s exhibit to pick up a fallen hat, according to the Toronto Sun. The tiger, clearly disturbed by the intruder, runs back and forth and appears to jump at the woman.
Visitors can be heard in the video calling her a “moron” and confronting her for setting a bad example.
The zoo called the woman’s actions “irresponsible” is now investigating. She could faces charges and be banned from the zoo.