Tuesday 25 July 2017

Tiger keeper died of 'traumatic injuries' but family 'fully supports' decision not to put animal down, inquest told

Undated family handout photo issued by Cambridgeshire Police of Rosa King who was killed by a tiger, as her inquest is due to be opened.Cambridgeshire Police/PA Wire
Undated family handout photo issued by Cambridgeshire Police of Rosa King who was killed by a tiger, as her inquest is due to be opened.Cambridgeshire Police/PA Wire

Sam Russell

A zookeeper killed by a tiger died of traumatic injuries and was formally identified by her employer, an inquest has heard.

Rosa King, 33, died at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire in what was described as a "freak accident".

Senior coroner David Heming extended his sympathies to her parents, Peter and Andrea, and members of her wider family as he opened and adjourned an inquest hearing at Cambridgeshire Coroner's Court in Huntingdon on Wednesday.

Ms King died at the zoo on May 29 and her body was formally identified to police at 3pm by her employer, Andrew Swales, who had known her for 15 years.

A post-mortem examination recorded the medical cause of death as traumatic injuries.

"There's an ongoing investigation into the circumstances of how the tiger came into direct contact with Rosa," Mr Heming said. "This investigation will take some time to complete.

Undated handout photo issued by Animals Asia of Rosa King (right) with an unnamed instructor after taking part in a skydive to raise money for the charity. Animals Asia /PA Wire
Undated handout photo issued by Animals Asia of Rosa King (right) with an unnamed instructor after taking part in a skydive to raise money for the charity. Animals Asia /PA Wire

"Given that this was a workplace incident, this will necessitate a jury inquest."

Read More: Zookeeper killed in tiger incident hailed as 'shining light'

The six-minute hearing, which was not attended by Ms King's family, was adjourned until November 23 for a pre-inquest review.

"If the investigation is completed prior to that date the inquest may be brought forward," said Mr Heming.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said officers were called to reports of a serious incident at the zoo at 11.15am and that a tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper.

Police are not treating the incident as suspicious, and a joint investigation with Huntingdonshire District Council is continuing.

Rosa King was hailed as a
Rosa King was hailed as a "shining light" of Hamerton Zoo Photo: Facebook

Read More: Tiger death zoo warned about 'ageing barriers' and escape procedures four years ago

Zoo bosses have said the tiger will not be put down and that this decision was "fully supported" by the keeper's relatives.

Following her death, Ms King's family said she "lived and breathed a vocation that meant the world to her".

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