A zookeeper was injured at the Topeka Zoo on Saturday morning after being attacked by a 7-year-old male Sumatran tiger

By Maria Pasquini
April 20, 2019 04:30 PM
Topeka Zoo/Facebook

A zookeeper was injured on Saturday morning after being attacked by a Sumatran tiger at the Topeka Zoo.

Addressing the incident during a press conference, Zoo Director Brendan Wiley shared that at about 9:15 a.m., shortly after the zoo opened, a female staff member was attacked by a 7-year-old male Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv. During the attack, the zookeeper suffered “lacerations and punctures” to the back of the head and neck.” Additionally, her back was injured, as was one of her arms.

Although Wiley was not able to give many concrete details about the incident, which is still being investigated, he shared that the attack happened because “one way or another… our team member and Sanjiv the tiger were both in our outdoor tiger habitat.”

“As soon as Sanjiv recognized that he essentially tackled our keeper,” Wiley told reporters, adding that humans and tigers should never be in a situation where they share the same space.

“There was some kind of error that occurred here,” he added.

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The zookeeper, who has yet to be identified, is currently being hospitalized.

“She’s currently being treated at a local hospital,” Wiley shared, describing her condition as “stable.”

A spokeswoman for the City of Topeka also told CNN that the zoo staff member was “awake and alert” when she was transported to the hospital.

According to Wiley, the staff member is “extremely well-qualified” and is the zoo’s “primary tiger keeper.”

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Wiley went on to share that despite the “unfortunate incident,” Sanjiv, who recently fathered 4 cubs, would not be euthanized.

“There is absolutely no consideration to euthanize Sanjiv,” the zoo director shared, explaining that Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species and the animal was simply behaving like a “wild tiger does.” 

Praising the staff members for controlling the incident within about 10 minutes, Wiley shared that had it not been for “three heroes on our staff… this could have been a very different outcome.”

Wiley added, “I would also like to extend our thoughts and prayers to our team member’s family, that’s where our focus is right now, just wishing for her speedy recovery.”

Following the incident, the zoo was closed for about 45 minutes, ABC News reported.