In one of the more stunning workplace accidents in recent memory, Stacey Konwiser, a zookeeper and tiger expert at the Palm Beach Zoo in nearby Palm Beach County Florida was killed on the job when she was mauled by an endangered, 300lb, Malaysian tiger. It is not known which Malaysian tiger in the enclosure actually killed her when the experienced zookeeper was feeding and cleaning the tiger house. There are only 250 such tigers left in existence.
This is the first animal-related human fatality in the zoo’s 60-year history according to statements by the zoo administration to The Huffington Post.
In a twist, it is possible that gross negligence on the part of zoo administration was instrumental in the zookeeper’s death. Paramedics were unable to immediately enter the tiger enclosure to attend to Ms. Konwiser’s life-threatening injuries. The zoo administrator insisted that the tigers be shot with a tranquilizer instead of a bullet in order to preserve the tiger’s lives. The Sun-Sentinal newspaper reports also that the 911 call failed to make clear that a tiger was responsible for the zookeeper’s injuries despite repeated questioning by the 911 operator. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administrator is investigating the accident.
Zookeepers at the Palm Beach Zoo are staunch advocates for the Malaysian tiger breeding program. They are coming under criticism by groups however for insisting that the tigers be tranquilized and denying paramedics access to the mortally wounded zookeeper who had to wait for up to 10 minutes for the sedatives to take effect. Once a cause of death is established it will be determined if more immediate first aid would have saved the woman’s life.
Whenever a person dies from non-natural causes a wrongful death has occurred. When an on the job accident causes someone to die the employer can be held accountable. Employers are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace environment. If you have had a loved one killed in a workplace accident, you need to hire an experienced and knowledgeable workplace accident attorney to represent you in your lawsuit against the employer who may be held liable for negligence.