A zookeeper at the Palm Beach Zoo in Florida has died after being mauled by a male Malayan tiger.
On the afternoon of April 15, Stacey Konwiser, 38, was performing basic tasks in the tiger’s enclosed area when she was severely bitten, the Palm Beach Post reports.
She was transported by helicopter to St. Mary's Medical Center where she was pronounced dead around 3 p.m.
The attack took place in a backstage area where the tigers sleep before the park’s scheduled “Tiger Talk” show at 2 p.m., WPEC reports.
The zoo was evacuated and placed on lockdown, but the zoo maintains that visitors were never at risk.
"The tiger never escaped," zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter said, according to the Sun Sentinel. "We have safety protocols for when incidents like this occur. We initiated those safety protocols."
The tiger was tranquilized following the attack and is in the care of a specialist, according to WPEC.
It has not been decided whether the Malayan tiger, an endangered species of which fewer than 250 exist in the wild, will be euthanized.
Konwiser was an employee at the zoo for three years and loved tigers, according to officials. She was known as the “tiger whisperer.”
"Stacey was an expert," Carter said, the Sun Sentinel reports. "She dedicated her life to her mission of protecting tigers."
Konwiser is the first human to die from an altercation with an animal in the Palm Beach Zoo's history.