Keeper mauled by tiger 'broke rules'

00:22, May 26 2013
Tiger attack
A Sumatran tiger. The one that attacked Sarah McClay had been with the zoo since it was a cub.

A young zoo keeper who was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger had no reason to be in its enclosure, according to the animal park's owner.

Sarah McClay, 24, from Cumbria, north England, was in the tiger enclosure at a zoo in the Lake District when she was attacked.

Police are investigating whether the zoo's safety systems had "failed" but the owner of South Lakes Wild Animal Park, David Gill, said Ms McClay had broken the rules by going into the tiger enclosure while the animals were loose.

Ms McClay was taken by air ambulance to hospital but died later from her injuries.

Sarah McClay
Sarah McClay was an experienced zoo keeper. It is not known why she went into the tiger enclosure.

Police said the tiger was locked in its enclosure following the attack and that members of the public were not at any risk during the incident.

Mr Gill said Ms McClay was an experienced zoo keeper and he had no explanation as to why she had entered the enclosure.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It does seem that she just basically failed to follow the correct procedures. For some unknown reason, an inexplicable reason, because there is no reason for why she did it, she opened the door and went into the tiger enclosure and straight into the tigers, and now we'll never know why."

He said that it was against protocols to walk into the tiger's cage.

The incident happened at about 4pm on Friday.

Mr Gill described Ms McClay as "a very passionate girl, very enthusiastic" who was "extremely good at delivering conservation talks. A very valued part of our team. A very bubbly character, a very happy girl."

He said there were no plans to have the tiger put down, which has been at the park for 10 years since it was a cub.