Details are emerging of a "freak accident" Monday at Hamerton Park Zoo in Cambridgeshire, UK, that resulted in the death of a female zookeeper. The Telegraph reports that witnesses heard “screaming” as workers rushed to help a zookeeper in an animal enclosure, where a tiger had attacked her. “It was a case of total panic,” says one witness. “There were keepers rushing about throwing about buckets of meat to try and get the tigers under control.” Visitors were led away from the scene and then evacuated from the zoo. Another witness posted photos she was snapping of the zoo’s tigers before the incident occurred to Facebook, where she wrote, “Well we've just had to hide thinking a tiger was loose. Something has gone wrong with a keeper and a tiger.”
According to the Independent, social media posts claiming that animals escaped began circulating, but police later refuted those accounts. The zoo released a statement calling the incident a “freak accident" and reiterating that no animals escaped their enclosures and that visitors were never in danger. Police also reported that the tiger was alive, in response to Twitter users concerned over the fate of the animal (last year protests erupted online when a zoo's gorilla was put to death for attacking a boy). No further information about the zookeeper has been released, and the zoo said employees are too distraught over the incident to talk at this time. "Our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues, friends, and families at this dreadful time,” the zoo’s statement says.