The Palm Beach Zoo in Florida will open again Monday, April 18, 2016, for the first time since 38-year-old lead zookeeper Stacey Konwiser, was mauled and died after a Malayan tiger attack on Friday, April 15. Konwiser was a tiger expert who had worked at the zoo for three years. She had extensive experience working with tigers, after receiving her Master’s degree from the University of Queensland in Australia.
The tiger is alive and well but the name is not being released. There was no word on whether the tiger habitat would reopen following the mauling and killing of a zoo employee.
A statement released by the Palm Beach Zoo expressed, that the tiger was never in danger of being harmed. The zoo nor its employees hold the animal responsible for what happened.
The attack took place inside the tiger night house, where the tigers are fed. The contained area is not open to the public and no visitors at the zoo were ever in danger, at the time of the incident.
Konwiser was performing regular tasks associated with the care of the tigers at the time of the tragic incident. The Palm Beach Zoo assures patrons that all protocols were followed, prior to and after the attack.
Employees remain on guard to address any possible incident right away. Including the possibility of putting an animal down if such an action is called for.
The tiger was immediately tranquilized after the attack. It takes 5 to 15 minutes for a tiger, of this size, to succumb to the tranquilizer. This gives the medical response team the time and ability to aid a victim.
After the attack, she was flown directly from Palm Beach Zoo, by trauma helicopter, to St. Mary’s for a medical evaluation. Konwiser was listed in critical condition until she passed away.
The Palm Beach Zoo has 30 zookeepers, including Stacey’s husband Jeremy Konwiser. The staff at the zoo are all in mourning since news of the tragic event.
This is the first report of an employee having been killed at the Palm Beach Zoo. They have released minimal information on the tiger responsible for Konwiser’s death, other than to say, it was a 13-year-old male Malayan tiger.
The danger of dealing with these animals is well-known among zoo staff. The Palm Beach Zoo reminded everyone that only people who have a passion for animals take the risk. Konwiser loved tigers, they were her favorite animals to care for.
There has been no confirmation on how the tiger will be handled, following the killing of an employee. The statement released by the Palm Beach Zoo indicated that these tigers are at risk of extinction and the zoo is a breeding area for the species.
Generally, when an animal kills an employee, the expectation is that the animal will be put down. However, the Palm Beach Zoo will be letting OSHA handle the investigation of the incident. The habitat will remain closed for the investigation. This time will also give the employees time to mourn the loss of a zoo family member.
Konwiser’s husband released a statement through the Palm Beach Zoo spokesman, thanking the public for their support. Recognizing how tragic the event has been for the zoo employees, who feel like family.
The spokesperson from Palm Beach zoo stated, “Stacey was like a sister to many.” Palm Beach Zoo is working with her family to create a fund in her honor.
Other details will be released after the conclusion of the investigation, by authorities.
By Gichele Cocrelle
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Sun-Sentinel: Palm Beach Zoo to Reopen Monday after deadly tiger incident
WPTV.com: Stacey Konwiser: Palm Beach Zoo employee killed by tiger was about to leave for a new job
Facebook: Palm Beach Zoo Facebook page
Photo Courtesy of Bob B. Brown’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License