Hamerton Zoo death: Tributes paid to Rosa King, zookeeper killed by tiger in 'freak accident'

Mother says 34-year-old died doing 'what she has always loved' 

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 30 May 2017 22:00
Hamerton zookeeper Rosa King, 34, who was killed by a tiger while on duty at the park
Hamerton zookeeper Rosa King, 34, who was killed by a tiger while on duty at the park

Tributes have been paid to a zookeeper who was killed by a tiger doing “what she has always loved” at a zoo in Cambridgeshire.

Rosa King, 34, died in what has been described as a “freak accident” at Hamerton Zoo Park in Huntingdon, when a tiger entered the enclosure she was in.

Visitors were evacuated by police but Ms King was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the tiger involved in the incident had not been put down, as some had expressed concerned about the welfare of the animal.

Ms King’s mother, Andrea, said: “She wouldn't have done anything else, it's what she has always done, it's what she has always loved”.

Her friend, wildlife photographer Garry Chisholm, said she was the “shining light” of the zoo.

He 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.

"She will be greatly missed, not just by me, but by everyone who came to know her."

Philip Caso, a 20-year-old zoology student from Peterborough who knew Ms King through work experience at the zoo, described her as “one of the most inspirational women [he] knew”.

He wrote on Facebook: "Rosa loved and respected those animals to the point where each and every one was like a child to her. Her passion for her job has really inspired me and I was just glad I got the chance to know her."

Ms King’s death has reignited the debate about the safety of keeping large, predatory animals such as tigers and lions in captivity.

In a statement on Facebook, the Born Free Foundation said: “It has now been confirmed that zookeeper, Rosa King, has sadly been killed by a tiger in circumstances that are currently unclear.

“Our thoughts are with the staff member's family and colleagues.

“The tragic news is hauntingly reminiscent of the death of a keeper at South Lakes Safari Zoo four years ago,and further highlights the dangers involved when keeping wild animals in captivity.”

Additional reporting by PA

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