A zookeeper mauled to death by a tiger died accidentally after failing to notice the enclosure was not secure, an inquest has concluded.
Rosa King, 33, was attacked by a Malayan male called Cicip while cleaning windows at Hamerton Zoo Park on 29 May 2017.
She suffered “traumatic” injuries, including a severed spinal cord.
The inquest had heard a metal slide designed to isolate the animal had been found open.
The conclusion came after more than two hours of deliberations by the jury, following six days of evidence.
Cambridgeshire assistant coroner Nicholas Moss said he was considering issuing a report calling for double gates to be fitted at all tiger enclosures, as Hamerton’s now are.
‘Love and support’
After the hearing, Ms King’s mother Andrea King asked for people to remember her daughter for the person that she was and not for what happened.
“Remember her for all she did for the animals in her care, the support she gave to conservation and animal welfare charities, the love she had of all creatures and the love and support she gave to family and friends,” she said.
Nobody saw the attack happen and nobody saw what Ms King did in the immediate lead-up. Her body was found by a visitor to the zoo shortly after it opened.
After he raised the alarm other keepers distracted the animal and enticed it back to a safe area by throwing meat.
The hearing had previously been told the zoo had a “lax attitude to safety”.
Zoological consultant Douglas Richardson said tiger protocols which were “not particularly thorough” and a vertical enclosure door which a strong tiger could “throw up with a paw”.
No mechanical faults were found with the steel slides which kept tigers apart from humans.
Ms King, whose family home is in Chippenham, Wiltshire, was described by colleagues as a “very safe” keeper, who was unlikely to skip a procedure.
But she may have been tired at the time, having worked long hours and helping with night feeds for a serval kitten, the inquest heard.
Since the attack the zoo has introduced a new system for tiger keepers that keeps them in contact with a colleague as they complete each task.