- (Photo: Facebook/Sarah McClay)
A tiger that killed a woman at a zoo maybe have escaped from its enclosure due to a gate being left open, according to reports.
The woman who was mauled was in a staff area of the enclosure that animals should not have had access too, according to The Daily Mail this week.
Tragedy struck at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, England last week when a Sumatran tiger mauled 24 year old Sarah McClay.
Detective Chief Inspector Bob Qazi, of Cumbria Police, said: "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.
"I want to emphasize 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. What has become apparent from our enquiries 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.
"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.
"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."
Since the tragic killing took place, a spokeswoman from the park confirmed that McClay was in the staff area of the tiger enclosure: "We concur with the recently released Police statement who are acting for the Coroner in compiling the evidence in accepting that Sarah was in the keeper work area at the time of the incident.
"The door of the tiger den was wide open and the slides to the outdoor area left open. This allowed the tiger to enter the housing and sadly attack Sarah as she was right by the den door.
"It is now clear that Sarah did enter the tiger den at some point to clean the den by opening the door but the exact circumstances of how the slides to the outside enclosure were left open is unclear."
Here is a video of one of the zoo's bosses commenting in the aftermath of the incident how he didn't understand why McClay was in the tiger's enclosure: