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The tiger Sayan in the restricted area at the Zoo Zurich
Image: picture-alliance/KEYSTONE/E. Leanza

Zoo Zurich: Tiger mauls zookeeper to death

July 4, 2020

Shocked Zoo Zurich visitors have witnessed a woman being attacked and mauled to death by a Siberian tiger. Swiss authorities are investigating why the zookeeper and the tiger were inside the enclosure at the same time.


A female Siberian tiger on Saturday attacked and killed a 55-year-old zookeeper at Zoo Zurich, police and zoo officials said.

The tiger, named Irina, approached the woman while she was inside the animal's enclosure and began mauling her.

A visitor who witnessed the attack sounded an alarm. Other zoo employees managed to lure the tiger away from their shocked colleague and into a stall, but it was too late to save the woman's life. She died on the spot.

"An animal keeper was fatally injured in Zoo Zurich by a Siberian Tiger. We are investigating the tragic incident … Because of this tragic incident, the zoo will be closed tomorrow," the zoo tweeted.

The Zurich zoo had just reopened its doors a month ago after being shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a young animal that so far has behaved entirely naturally as a tiger does," Zoo Director Severin Dressen told
reporters, adding that it was unclear why the zookeeper was inside the tiger enclosure at the same time as the animal.

The public prosecutor's office and Zurich city police said they were investigating the circumstances of the attack.

Witnesses to the attack and zoo staff were receiving counseling.

Second enclosure attack in a year

The tiger enclosure in Zoo Zurich also has a four-year-old male tiger named Sayan, according to the zoo's website.

A year ago, Irina arrived in the Swiss city from a zoo in the Danish city of Odense, replacing a female tiger who died from complications after a fight with Sayan.

In December, the Swiss zoo witnessed another animal attack. A zookeeper who was trying to clean a crocodile enclosure was mauled but luckily survived.

The crocodile trapped the zookeeper's hand between its teeth and has was eventually shot to death when it refused to release the keeper for several minutes.

mvb/mm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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