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Killed zookeeper’s family demand answers

Posted in: Workplace Injuries 

The family of 24-year-old zookeeper Sarah McClay has demanded that their questions are answered following her death in May last year. The accident happened at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, near Dulton-in-Furness, whereby Miss McClay was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger.

It was heard during the inquest that the tiger had managed to get through an open door from its enclosure to a corridor in which Miss McClay had been working. Animals and their keepers are supposed to be kept apart by lockable self-closing doors. However, the male tiger, Padang, managed to get through the two sliding gates in its enclosure, before getting through the door behind which Miss McClay was working.

“She is greatly missed”

It was heard that the tiger leapt at Miss McClay, dragging her to his den by the back of her neck.  She was quickly airlifted to Royal Preston Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. A post-mortem examination revealed deep puncture wounds to her neck and body, which would have caused her death.

The inquest heard that one of the bolts in the door was faulty, but it could not be determined when the damage was actually done. A criminal health and safety at work investigation is to be carried out by Barrow Borough Council, before which no other questions can be answered.

A statement by the zoo’s owner, David Gill, read: “Her tragic and untimely death has affected all of us at the park, and she is greatly missed.

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