A lead tiger keeper, Stacey Konwiser, at the Palm Beach Zoo died after a rare species of the cat killed her last Friday.
Konwiser (38) was attacked by a 13- year- old male Malayan tiger.
According to the zoo officials, Konwiser was preparing to talk with the zoo visitors in the “Tiger Talk”. She worked in the tiger night house inside the zoo.
The incident took place around 2 pm, and the visitors hurried to the zoo souvenir shop. Nobody could witness the event. The zoo shut till Saturday.
According to the West Palm Beach police, the tiger was tranquilized, and officers waited until the drugs took effect before they could reach the victim.
A helicopter uplifted Konwiser to St. Mary’s Medical Center.
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Konwiser had worked three years at the zoo and was very experienced with tigers. Her husband, Jeremy Konwiser, is also a trainer at the zoo. Her friends indicate her fondness for these fat cats and their unique communication techniques.
Konwiser completed her bachelor’s degree in biology from Mount Holyoke College and master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of Queensland in Australia.
The critically endangered species, Malayan tigers are less than 250 in the world. Visitors from all over the world pay extra to see them. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will soon start investigating.
Dave Salmoni, the large predator expert for Animal Planet, said he was not surprised such an attack happened in the tiger night house as these zoo cats feel comfortable in their natural inhabitants.
A statement issued by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized the zoo. They suggest that if the animals locked inside cages for human amusement, such incidents will occur repeatedly.
Meanwhile, as per the Palm Beach Zoo officials, this was the first human death in an animal incident inside the zoo premises, and they extend their support to Konwiser’s family.