Cambridgeshire

Rosa King tiger death: Hamerton Zoo visitor found her body

Rosa King Image copyright Hamerton Zoo Park/Facebook
Image caption Rosa King looked after the carnivores at the zoo, where she had worked for 13 years

A zookeeper mauled to death by a tiger was found by a member of the public, an inquest has heard.

Rosa King, 33, had been cleaning windows in the tiger enclosure at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire on 29 May, 2017, when she was attacked by a Malayan male called Cicip.

She suffered "significant" injuries including a severed spinal cord and lacerations to her neck and arms.

A jury will hear evidence over two weeks at an inquest in Huntingdon.

Miss King was killed shortly before the zoo opened at 10:00 BST, assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire, Nicholas Moss said.

Visitor Frank York saw Miss King's body in the enclosure and raised the alarm.

Immediately after the attack two gates and a metal vertical slide, designed to ensure staff and tigers were kept separated in the paddock, were found open, Mr Moss said.

"We're going to need to explore how that happened and what the reason for that was."

Mr Moss said a police investigation "suggested there was not any mechanical fault with the gates and slides".

Image caption Rosa King was killed after a tiger entered the enclosure she was in

The zoo was evacuated as a precaution but Mr Moss said keepers "were able to entice Cicip" back into his run and the area was made safe.

Armed police, paramedics and an air ambulance all rushed to the scene but "it had been apparent from as soon as Rosa was seen that she had died", the coroner said.

The court heard Miss King had a "significant number of lacerations and abrasions" on her neck and puncture wounds and lacerations to her arms and right leg.

She also suffered a complete fracture of her cervical spinal cord, the inquest heard.

Image caption Flowers were left at the zoo following Rosa King's death

Miss King's mother, Andrea King, told the jury "it was clear she would work with animals" since the time she was a toddler.

She described her as "knowledgeable about all the animals in her care".

Miss King, who worked at the zoo for 13 years, had never expressed concerns about her working conditions, her mother said.

Zoo founder Andrew Swales told the inquest Miss King had helped design the new tiger enclosure between 2014 and 2016.

Hamerton Park Zoo first opened in 1990 and had 100,000 visitors the year before Miss King's death.

The inquest continues.

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