Police have reported that Sarah McClay, who was attacked on Friday at an enclosure at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, was in a staff area when the tiger escaped from its pen and mauled her.
Police detectives have now hypothesised that the tiger’s escape was due to either “human or mechanical” error and lead to McClay receiving lethal head and neck injuries.
Det Chief Insp Bob Qazi, of Cumbria Police stated,”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.”
He then added, “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.”
Discussing the lead-up to the attack, the officer remarked, “What has become apparent from our inquiries 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.
He then added about the ordeal, “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.
Qazi then concluded, “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.”
Previously, the zoo’s owner, David Gill, had laid the blame Ms. McClay for not correctly following safety procedures, saying “it was a disastrous error of judgment.”