As zookeepers and aquarists we have, hands down, the most amazing jobs in the world. And then, every once in a while, something happens to remind all of us how dangerous it can be.
Yesterday, Rosa King, a carnivore keeper at the Hamerton Zoo, lost her life in an incident involving one of the tigers she cared for. She was 34-years old.
Picture Credit: Hamerton Zoo Facebook page
When tragedies like this occur, people react differently. Sure, the anti-zoo folks will parade this as additional evidence of why animals shouldn't be in zoos (note: if I'm ever killed on the job, I will personally haunt forever any jerk who tries capitalizing off of my death as a fundraiser for their organization). There's often a tendency for people to blame the facility, claiming that something must have been inadequate about it.
Regrettably, I've also seen keepers in other cases try to find fault with the victim. That, I think, is mostly fear - people are desperate to convince themselves that this was the other person's "fault", a mistake that they themselves would never make, to convince themselves that nothing like this could ever happen to them.
The truth is, sometimes it's just what the headline says it is - a freak accident. Sometimes the best trained keepers in perfectly acceptable facilities with animals they know very well still come together in a tragic way. The details of this incident are still coming out. I see no advantage in poking a raw wound on the hearts of the staff of this zoo, trying to find fault that might not even be there.
The zoo staff and the police are to be congratulated for the quick, effective, and professional manner in which they evacuated the facility and made sure all visitors were gotten to safety. I am so, so, sorry for their loss, and wish them privacy and space to grieve for their fallen friend.