Zookeeper mauled to death by Siberian tiger after electric fence was turned off

An experienced zookeeper was mauled to death after a Siberian tiger scaled a 12-foot high electric fence that had been switched off for maintenance.

A spokesman for Seaview Predator Park said: "It is with deep regret that we can confirm the death of our employee David Solomon after he was attacked by a Siberian tiger.

"The electric fencing in the enclosure housing our Siberian tigers Jasper and Jade was being repaired when Jasper jumped on the exterior fence and got out.

"David was unfortunately in the passageway between two tiger enclosures walking towards the water supply taps when the incident occurred and Jasper got out."

The spokesman added: "David attempted to climb the fence of a different enclosure to get to safety but was pulled off the fence by Jasper."

Reports say the tiger had bitten Mr Solomon but his cause of death appeared to have been a broken neck.

The spokesman said Jasper then jumped the exterior fence of the next-door enclosure which houses two other Siberian Tigers, Judah, and Amber and then a fight ensued between Judah and Jasper.

"Judah was killed. Jasper, being an entire male Siberian tiger, wanted the attentions of Amber, an entire female Siberian Tiger, who was in the enclosure with Judah," he said.

As soon as the incident occurred, park managers declared an emergency and asked members of the public to leave.

"Members of the public who were at the restaurant were kept there until it was safe for them to return to their vehicles and exit the Park after the police arrived," the spokesman said.

"David Solomon had been at the Seaview Predator Park for about 15 years and knew each of the animals since they were cubs.

"We are all one big family and the loss of David has left every one of us heartbroken and traumatised specifically the staff and volunteers present when this occurred."

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He continued: "Jasper’s incident is a first at the park and was fuelled by hormones and he is now calm and content in an enclosure with Amber and there are no plans to destroy Jasper.

"At no stage was any member of the public in any immediate danger and our request that visitors leave immediately is standard protocol should such an incident occur.

"Jasper is very much alive and both Jasper and Amber were tranquillised by the vet and spent the night in their night cages while we ensure the electric fencing is secure."

Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg of the South African Police Service said: “Detectives are investigating an inquest after a man was attacked by a tiger.

"It is alleged that on Wednesday at approximately 15.30pm an employer was working on an electric fence at one of the tiger enclosures when a tiger jumped the fence.

"The tiger attacked the worker and it is confirmed the worker died at the scene."

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