Tributes have flooded social media for Rosa King, the zookeeper who was killed yesterday by a tiger at Hamerton Zoo.
Rosa King, a 33-year-old big cat campaigner was mauled to death by a captive tiger at the Cambridgeshire zoo, where she worked as a keeper, on Bank Holiday Monday at 11:15am.
King’s friends and family have since taken to social media to pay their respects to the animal-lover, who freely admitted tigers ‘belong in the wild too’.
Friend and wildlife photographer, Gary Chisholm, 59, of Irchester, Northamptonshire, told the BBC:
Rosa wasn’t just a keeper at Hamerton Zoo – she was Hamerton Zoo. She was the absolute central point of it, the focal point of it. She was the shining light of it.
Her passion for the animals in her care was exceptional though her favourites were undoubtedly the cheetahs which she would refer to as her pride and joy.
Rosa was attacked by one of the animals she loved to tend to, when the tiger in question entered the enclosure in which she was working.
Desperate colleagues witnessed the attack, and tried in vain to prevent it by throwing meat at the tiger in attempts to distract the animal.
Rosa was declared dead at the zoo, Cambridgeshire Police later confirmed, in what has been dubbed a ‘freak accident’.
— Rosa King (@RosaKing2) March 5, 2012
The zookeeper was an outspoken supporter of Tiger Time, a UK charity which campaigns to ban the trade of tigers, and she regularly lent her name to their petitions.
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In 2012 she tweeted Tiger Time, saying: “I have t pleasure of wkin w/tigers @HamertonZoo. It shouldnt b t only place 2 c them, they belong in t wild too!!”
Of the tragedy, a Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said:
Officers attended a serious incident at Hamerton Zoo Park, Steeple Girding, at around 11.15am today. A tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper. Sadly the female zoo keeper died at the scene.
At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure. The incident is not believed to be suspicious.
Helicopter pictures of Hamerton Zoo this evening which has been evacuated after the air ambulance was called to a "very serious incident". pic.twitter.com/QzcscSzSOw
— Jon Ironmonger (@JonIronmonger) May 29, 2017
A statement from Hamerton Zoo read:
This appears to have been a freak accident. A full investigation is currently underway and we hope that more details can be announced as soon as we are able. At no point during the incident did any animals escape their enclosures, and at no point was public safety affected in any way.
The park is home to four tigers: Bengals, Shiva and Mohan as well as two Malaysian tigers, named Cicip and Sahaja, whom the zoo opened a new enclosure for in July last year. The tiger responsible for Rosa’s tragic death has not been killed and is unharmed, reports the BBC.
Wildlife expert Steve Backshall told the BBC that tigers are solitary creatures who live and hunt alone in the wild, explaining: In the wild, they’ll have enormous home ranges and rarely come into contact with other tigers.
Backshall added: “In captivity, quite often they’ll be kept in relatively small enclosures with other tigers, and there’s no doubt that could cause artificial stresses within those enclosed populations.”
Our thoughts are with Rosa’s family and friends at this devastating time. RIP.