A female zookeeper was killed by a tiger in a “freak accident” at Hamerton Zoo this afternoon, staff confirmed.
A statement handed out at the gates of the park read: “We are sorry but our staff are too distressed to speak to the media as one of our colleagues was killed at Hamerton Zoo Park this morning.”
Cambridgeshire police added: “A keeper sadly died when a tiger entered the enclosure with her. At no point did the tiger escape from enclosure.”
Terrified visitors earlier described fleeing in panic amid scenes of “absolute chaos”.
Police and the air ambulance had been called to a “very serious incident” the nature reserve this morning.
Victoria Northover Holmes has described hearing someone shout “run” before sprinting for cover – before all visitors were safely evacuated from the zoo.
She and other worried visitors hid in the zookeeper’s office for ten minutes while zoo staff tried to lure the tiger away from the scene.
Victoria, of Corby, Leics, wrote on Facebook: “Well we’ve just had to hide thinking a tiger was loose.
“Something has gone wrong with a keeper and a tiger. Hope things are ok?”