The mother of a zookeeper, who was killed in a “freak accident” at Hamerton Zoo, has paid tribute to her daughter saying her job was "what she has always loved."
Rosa King, who was named as the Hamerton Zoo Park keeper who died on Monday, was passionate about the animals in her care, a friend said.
Describing her passion for the job, her mother Andrea King, 54, said she had worked at the zoo for about 14 years.
"She wouldn't have done anything else, it's what she has always done, it's what she has always loved," she said.
A Magpas air ambulance was on the scene 20 minutes later and visitors were evacuated from the attraction. An East of England Ambulance Service paramedic crew and two rapid response vehicles also attended.
The zoo said the tragedy appeared to have been caused by a “freak accident” and it would remain closed today (Tuesday, May 30) as an investigation continues. In a statement posted on the park’s website today, it said: “This appears to have been a freak accident.
“The park will be closed, as a full investigation is currently underway, and we hope that more details can be announced as soon as we are able. “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.”
Garry Chisholm, 59, a wildlife photographer in his spare time who knew Ms King through visiting the attraction in Huntingdon, just over the county border in Cambridgeshire, said the zoo revolved around the keeper.
Mr Chisholm told the Press Association: “Rosa wasn’t just a keeper at Hamerton Zoo - she was Hamerton Zoo.
“She was the absolute central point of it, the focal point of it. She was the shining light of it. It revolved around her.” Police were called at 11.15am yesterday (Monday, May 30) to reports of a serious incident at the zoo.
A Cambridgeshire Police statement said: “Officers attended a serious incident at Hamerton Zoo Park, Steeple Girding, at around 11.15am. “A tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper. Sadly the female zoo keeper died at the scene.
“At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure. The incident is not believed to be suspicious.”
Mr Chisholm said on his Facebook page: “Her passion for the animals in her care was exceptional though her favourites were undoubtedly the cheetahs which she would refer to as her pride and joy.
“Rosa would raise money for cheetah conservation by actively taking part in parachute jumps and I was delighted when she approached me asking if she could use one of my pictures to promote her money raising campaign.
“I feel privileged to have known Rosa and been able to call her a friend. She will be greatly missed, not just by me but by everyone who came to know her. The only consolation I can take from today's tragic events is that Rosa is now reunited with her beloved Ares the cheetah and Blizzard and Ladybelle her beloved tigers.”