Topeka Zoo tiger will not be euthanized after attack, keeper in stable condition

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) A Topeka Zoo keeper was injured after being attacked by a tiger Saturday morning.

Sanjiv the Sumatran tiger prior to her move to the Topeka Zoo. (Courtesy: Akron Zoo)

According to Zoo Director Brendan Wiley, the keeper suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to the back of her head, neck, and one arm. She was reportedly awake and alert when she was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition at this time.

The attack lasted about 10 minutes, then zoo employees lured Sanjiv back into holding with food.

"We have a number of protocols in place," Wiley said. "Everything from how you shift a tiger inside and out to how you enter a space that a tiger may be in to what happens in an emergency situation involving a dangerous animal."

Wiley is not releasing the name of the keeper, however he noted she was the tiger's primary keeper.

According to Wiley, the keeper and Sanjiv were both in the outdoor tiger enclosure at the same time when the attack occurred and that "there really isn't a circumstance where they would be in the same space." The keeper does regularly go into the enclosure to clean up after the tigers.

"There was an error there," he added.

Zoo officials are not considering euthanizing Sanjiv. Calling the incident "very unfortunate," Wiley said the Sumatran tiger, "did what a wild tiger does."

The Zoo has reached out to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums about the incident, and Wiley said they plan to review the policies and procedures of the tiger management team.

“If we need to make updates to our current procedures, we will most certainly do that,” he said.

A few zoo visitors were present and witnessed the attack.

The entire Zoo was closed for approximately 45 minutes before all but the tiger enclosure was reopened. The remaining tigers, except Sanjiv, have since been allowed out of their holding cell.

The City of Topeka said in a statement that the zoo staff is "highly trained and experienced in working with tigers" and the entire zoo staff routinely trains for emergency situation.

Sanjiv first came to the Topeka Zoo, from a zoo in Akron, Ohio, in August 2017 as part of a breeding program working to expand genetic diversity in tigers. Over the next several months, he was introduced to their female tiger, Jingga, and, in October, they welcomed four cubs.