A tiger killed a zoo worker after the 24-year-old girl walked into the tiger’s enclosure. “For inexplicable reasons she opened a door and walked into the enclosure. We will never know why she entered without telling anyone. There was no reason for her to go in there,” reported BBC News on May 25, 2013.
The 24-year-old girl who was killed on Friday by a Sumatran tiger in an enclosure at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park near Dalton-in-Furness in England was Sarah McClay.
David Gill, the park owner, described 24-year-old Sarah McClay as a “bubbly, happy girl,” as a “very experienced” staff member at the zoo, and as a “proficient and passionate” zoo worker.
However, according to the zoo’s protocol, staff members were not allowed to have any direct contact with the tigers.
“We have very strict protocols and procedures for working with big cats, but it seems she failed to follow correct procedures. There was no reason for her to go in there.”
According to David Gill, Sarah McClay walked into the tiger’s enclosure for unknown reasons around 4 p.m. on Friday while the park was open to the public. He believes that one visitor might have witnessed the attack. After the 24-year-old zoo worker was mauled by the tiger, she was taken to the hospital where she died of neck and head injuries.
Just three months ago, a lion attacked and killed 24-year-old Dianna Hanson, a caretaker at Project Survival’s Cat Haven at Dunlap in Fresno County in California. Like 24-year-old Sarah McClay, Dianna Hanson had walked into the lion enclosure without permission. Cous Cous, the four-year-old male African lion that had been hand-raised by the park and who was Dianna Hanson’s favorite big cat, had to be killed in order to get to Dianna Hanson even though she had already died.
After the zoo worker was killed by a tiger in England, the park owner and his staff initially evacuated the area but since there was no danger to the public, the park reopened on Saturday.
“We had a meeting of all staff at 5.30pm and asked what they wanted. There was a huge consensus of opinion that we carry on. The public were not at risk and we followed all our accident procedures to the letter. It would not do any good to close the park as there is no safety issue.”
The Sumatran tiger who killed zoo worker Sarah McClay has lived at the park for 10 years since it was a cub.
In contrast to Cous Cous, the Sumatran tiger will not have to pay with his life for human error.
“He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s a tiger and his natural instinct is to kill. We all know that and that’s why all the protocols are in place. He didn’t make a mistake, he was just there. We don’t blame him for what happened.”