• Germany's news in English

Tiger kills zookeeper during feeding time

The Local · 20 Sep 2013, 13:00

Published: 20 Sep 2013 13:00 GMT+02:00

The zookeeper, named as Martin H., was doing a routine feed of the Münster zoo tigers at around 4pm. But this time, he forgot to properly lock the door keeping them secure in their indoor enclosure, while he laid food in the outside area of the compound.

Rasputin, a Siberian tiger, managed to sneak back into his outdoor area without the 56-year-old keeper noticing. He sprung on him from behind and bit through his neck. The zookeeper died instantly, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

Police were called at 4.24pm and the fire service a minute later.

Onlookers watched the attack, and tried to raise the alarm. But help did not come in time. “An encounter like that with a tiger isn't something that can be survived,” zoo chief Jörg Adler said in a press conference on Thursday evening.

“There were witnesses, which means we do a reconstruction of the keeper's death,” Adler said, explaining that Martin H. was a very experienced keeper.

“We can install only so much technology and so many alarms – when it comes down to it it's the keeper who decides,” Adler continued, before adding that he was asking himself what he, as the director, could have done differently.

He said: “It is a tragedy which is hard to comprehend. I can not describe it.”

Dieter Knaack, 55, spokesman for Münster fire service said: “He [Rasputin] sprang on his back as fast as lightning from behind and killed him with a bite on his neck. The zookeeper had no chance. He died immediately," the Bild newspaper reported.

Rasputin was born in Leipzig and has been in Münster zoo since 2005. He will not be killed following the attack, the zoo has decided.

Investigators said that the most likely reason behind his death was basic human error. A similar attack happened in the nearby city of Cologne two years ago. A keeper was attacked by a Siberian tiger after forgetting to shut the door and was killed.

Story continues below…

This second attack has provoked complaints from animal activists. Tigers are “incredible challenging to keep in captivity and potentially extremely dangerous not only for keepers but also for visitors,” animal rights group Vier Pfoten said after the incident, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

READ MORE: Berlin Zoo wins Knut polar bear court battle

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'We'll freeze Turkey talks' warns EU as arrests continue
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a radical purge against anyone suspected of complicity in the coup attempt. Photo: DPA

As Turkish authorities on Friday widened their sweeping post-coup crackdown to the business sector, the European Union's enlargement commissioner implicitly warned that the bloc would freeze Turkey's accession talks if the crackdown violated the rule of law.

I’m ashamed of Germany’s refugee failure: Green leader
Cem Özdemir. Photo: DPA

The head of the Green Party has responded angrily to Angela Merkel’s speech on refugees on Friday, saying he feels “ashamed at Germany’s failure".

German satirists mock Erdogan (and his penis)
Photo: DPA

Tempting fate?

Huge pro-Erdogan rally puts strain on Turkish community
Erdogan supporters at a rally in 2014. Photo: DPA

Tens of thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plan to rally in Cologne on Sunday, as tensions over Turkey's failed coup have put German authorities on edge.

How the Berlin startup scene is wasting its potential
Photo: DPA

"The truth is, there really isn't a truly successful international Berlin startup."

Five years' jail for German darknet weapons dealer
Photo: DPA

He had sold weapons to known Isis-sympathizers and far-right extremists.

Prickly Bavarian calls out cops on hedgehogs' noisy sex
Photo: DPA

Caught in the act.

International or German state school - which one's best?
Photo: DPA

Deciding between sending your child to a German state school or a private international school isn't easy. Max Bringmann has experienced both.

13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Captain Schweinsteiger retires from international football
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

He has won a World Cup with Die Mannschaft and captained them at Euro 2016. On Friday Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement from the national team.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Five things to know about guns in Germany
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd