Zoo on Mauled Zookeeper: It's Her Fault
Stacey Konwiser seemingly broke the rules
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2016 2:02 PM CDT
In this March 7, 2015, file photo, Stacey Konwiser smiles during the dedication of the new tiger habitat at the Palm Beach Zoo in West Palm Beach, Fla.    (Brianna Soukup/Palm Beach Post via AP)

(Newser) – A zookeeper killed by a Malayan tiger at the Palm Beach Zoo met her end by entering an area she should have avoided, the zoo's top official says. Stacey Konwiser, 38, who was mauled on April 15, apparently broke zoo safety rules by going inside the cat's sleeping area when the animal had access to it, USA Today reports. "The facts as we know them confirm that [Konwiser] ... secured a portion of the tiger night house with a tiger in it, and then entered that same portion of the night house after it was clearly designated as accessible by a tiger," writes Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society President Andrew Aiken on the zoo's Facebook page. "Under Palm Beach Zoo policy, zoo employees are never allowed to enter a tiger enclosure to which the animal has access."

That seems to clash with the zoo's initial reaction to Konwiser's death, CNN reports. The zookeeper did "absolutely" nothing unusual in entering the tiger's eating and sleeping area, zoo rep Naki Carter said on the day Konwiser died. "This was part of a daily procedure that takes place, this was something that was done every single day," Carter added. "She was efficient and proficient in doing this task and an unfortunate situation occurred." The zoo has since created an interim system of using two employees to move tigers in the night house, the Sun Sentinel reports. Konwiser's death is still being investigated by five organizations, including the West Palm Beach Police Dept., Florida Fish & Wildlife, and the US Dept. of Agriculture. (See why the Palm Beach Zoo tranquilized the tiger instead of killing it.)