A Blackpool photographer has spoken of her shock after one of her friends was mauled to death by a tiger.
Zookeeper Rosa King was killed after a tiger entered the enclosure she was in at Hamerton Zoo Park in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
Her passion for the animals, the zoo and conservation really shone through. She loved them all
Distressed staff are said to have thrown meat into the enclosure in a desperate attempt to help Ms King during the incident on Monday morning.
Rosa King was ‘inspirational’ and enjoyed working with her ‘beloved cats’, friends said, while her mother said the 34-year-old ‘wouldn’t have done anything else’ as a career.
Photographer Hollie Gordon, who said she became friends with Ms King through visits to the zoo, said: “Her passion for the animals, the zoo and conservation really shone through. She loved them all.”
The 24-year-old, from Blackpool, added: “I am in shock by what has happened.
“Terribly upset and can’t quite believe I won’t see her again with a big smile on her face and working with her beloved cats.”
Cambridgeshire Police said the tiger had not been killed and was unharmed.
The zoo, which saw visitors evacuated when the incident occurred, said what happened appeared to have been a ‘freak accident’.
It said: “At no point during the incident did any animals escape their enclosures and at no point was public safety affected in any way.
“All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues, friends and families at this dreadful time.”
The case has been referred to Cambridgeshire Coroner’s Office and a spokesman said an inquest will be opened next week.