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Zoo fined for death of keeper mauled by tiger

South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria has today (10 June) been fined £350,000 after one zookeeper was killed and another was injured in two separate incidents. 

On 24 May 2013 Sarah McClay was mauled to death by a tiger after it escaped through an unlocked gate and attacked her. 

“The zoo failed to comply with expected standards in relation to risk assessing and proactively maintaining the door (especially the self-closing mechanism) which was the final line of defence between a keeper and tiger,” said a spokesperson for Barrow Borough Council, which investigated the incidents.

The zoo also failed to sufficiently address the risks arising from a big cat escaping from the keeper’s area into a public space. 

On 18 July 2014 another of the zoo’s employees sustained a broken bone after falling from a ladder while preparing food for the lions. The council said the zoo did not carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for work at height. Zookeepers fed the lions by climbing up a ladder and putting meat on a pole 5 m above the ground. 

At Preston Crown Court earlier this week the zoo, formerly the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, admitted breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act for the 2013 accident. It pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (for the lack of adequate risk assessment) for the incident in 2014. The company was fined £300,000 and £50,000 respectively.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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