A predator park worker was killed by a Siberian tiger on Wednesday afternoon.
An electric fencing in the enclosure housing two tigers, Jasper and Jade, was being repaired when Jasper jumped the exterior fence and got out, management of Seaview Predator Park in Gqeberha said.
According to a statement by the park, employee David Solomon was in the passageway between enclosures walking towards the water supply taps when the tiger escaped.
“David attempted to climb the fence of a different enclosure to get to safety and was pulled off the fence by Jasper.
“We confirm that David obviously had bite marks but it would seem that Jasper broke David’s neck when he pulled David off the fence.”
The park said Jasper then proceeded to jump the exterior fence of the next door enclosure which houses Siberian tigers Judah and Amber.
“A fight ensued between Judah and Jasper and Judah was killed. Jasper, being an (unneutered) male Siberian tiger, wanted the attentions of Amber, a female Siberian tiger.”
The park was immediately shut down after the incident and members of the public who were near the tiger enclosures were taken to safety.
“Members of the public who were at the restaurant were kept there until it was safe for them to return to their vehicles and exit the park.”
A vet from Kragga Kamma was on site to tranquillise Jasper and Amber in order for the remains of David to be retrieved as well as those of Judah, the tiger that was killed by Jasper, the park said.
Solomon had worked at the predator park for 15 years and had known the animals since they were cubs.
“We are all one big family and the loss of David has left every single one of us heartbroken and traumatised, specifically the staff members and volunteers who were present when the incident occurred.
“David’s presence, jokes, willingness to teach our young volunteers and overall bubbling personality is going to be missed so much and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and close friends. May his dear soul rest in peace. We would like to confirm that all the large cats are safely contained in their enclosures and the electric fencing is fully functional.”
Management for the park said Jasper’s incident was a first and was “obviously fuelled by hormones”.
“Jasper is now quite calm and content sharing an enclosure with Amber and there are no plans to destroy Jasper. We apologise to our visitors who had their visit cut short yesterday by the incident and would like to assure future visitors that they are quite safe.”
The park will be closed on Thursday in honour of Solomon.