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Inquest into Cumbrian zoo keeper death

An inquest into the death of a zoo keeper at a Cumbrian wild-life park is expected to be opened and adjourned this week.

24-year-old Sarah McClay died after being mauled by Sumatran tigers at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton in Furness.

Cumbria Police are carrying out an inquiry on behalf of the Coroner.

A police spokesman said:

"A complex system of gates at the enclosure meant the animals and their keepers should remain separated at all times, but on this occasion the system failed, with fatal consequences."

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"No risk to public from animals escaping" at South Lakes wildlife park

Police investigating the death of a zoo keeper at a South Lakes wildlife park have said that they do not believe that there is any risk to the public of animals escaping.

25-year-old Sarah McClay died after she was mauled to death by a tiger whilst going about her routine duties.

Investigations are continuing into her death.

"At this time this investigation is being done on behalf of HM Coroner.

"It is vitally important that we discover what exactly happened in the big cat enclosure building that led to Sarah coming into contact with the tiger.

"I want to emphasise there is no suggestion of any foul play or any issue of suicide or self-harm from the enquiries we have made and evidence we have.

"What has become apparent from our enquiries with witnesses is that Sarah was going about her routine duties and was in the staff section of the enclosure building, which animals are not allowed access to, when a tiger has entered it from an adjacent pen and confronted her.

"The tiger has then attacked Sarah, taking her from the building into the open-air external enclosure area where Sarah was left and later attended by staff and paramedics.

"We are still trying to establish exactly how and why the tiger has been able

to get from the pen into the staff area and at the moment believe this to be because of a human or system error, or mechanical failing, or combination of both.

"The building was secured at the time and we do not believe there was any risk to the general public from animals escaping into public areas of the park.

"We are also conscious the events have had a deep impact upon Sarah's work colleagues and people at the Animal Park and we would express our sympathies to them too."

– Detective Chief Inspector Bob Qazi

Family of tiger maul victim pay tribute

The family of Sarah McClay who was mauled to death by a tiger in Cumbria, have paid tribute to her and thanked the emergency services for their support.

The 25 year old zoo keeper was killed at South Lakes Wild Animal Park on May 24th.

Sarah's family say they are still coming to terms with their loss but wish to thank everyone for their kind words. A statement issued says:

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the valiant efforts of Cumbria Ambulance Service, the North West Air Ambulance and the Royal Preston Hospital. Investigations are ongoing and it may be sometime before a full picture emerges of what happened and how this tragic accident came to pass."

– Family statement
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Family anger at Tiger blame claim

The brother of a woman mauled to death by a tiger has hit out at claims that the attack was her own fault.

Sarah McClay, 24, died when she was mauled by a Sumatran tiger at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, on Friday afternoon.

Yesterday her brother Stephen said the family had been hurt by suggestions by the park's owner, David Gill, that she had died because of "keeper error" and a "sad error of judgment", the Sun said.

"These are unsubstantiated claims by a man with an obvious axe to grind."

"My family and I feel his comments are ill-advised, premature and disrespectful.

"He's laying the blame squarely at her door before the official police inquiries have begun. It has caused hurt to our family."

– Sarah's brother Stephen

Detectives do not suspect foul play or suicide but say Ms McClay was doing her routine duties in an enclosure to which animals are not allowed access - when she was then confronted by the animal.

Officers are now trying to establish whether this was due to a technical fault or human error.

"We have made a statement that from the investigations that have taken place it is clear that this tragedy was caused by a sad error of judgment and breach of protocols, in essence, keeper error.

"This is not blame, it is not anything but defining the facts as they appear.

"This does not mean Sarah killed herself on purpose it means simply she died from her own tragic mistake."

– Comments from David Gill on the park's Facebook page

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Woman mauled by tiger died 'from her tragic mistake'

The owner of a wild animal park where a woman keeper was mauled to death by a tiger has insisted she died "from her own tragic mistake".

Writing on the park's Facebook page, zoo owner David Gill said she died "from her own tragic mistake".

Ms McClay, 24, was attacked by a Sumatran tiger at the park in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, on Friday afternoon after she went into its enclosure.

From the investigations that have taken place it is clear that this tragedy was caused by a sad error of judgment and breach of protocols, in essence, keeper error.

– David Gill, owner, South Lakes Wild Animal Park
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Police investigate Tiger maul death

Police investigating the death of a woman at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, Dalton are working to figure if human or technical failure led to her death.

Sarah McClay aged 24 years, was attacked by a Sumatran tiger whilst, police believe, going about her routine duties.

The enclosure concerned consists of a number of compartments both indoor and outdoor connected by lockable doors. Systems are in place the ensure that animals and keepers remain apart at all times. At some stage this has failed and the animal and Sarah came together with tragic consequences.

The police are working to establish whether this was a result of human or technical factors.

Police are not currently treating this as a criminal investigation. Until the investigation is completed officers are keeping an open mind as to the exact causes of this tragedy.

Our thoughts at this time are with the family and friends of Sarah and we will continue our investigation to establish the exact details of what happened as soon and as thoroughly as possible.

– Detective Chief Inspector Bob Qazi
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