After someone apparently did not close a security gate properly, a tiger named Altai was able to escape from its enclosure in the Cologne Zoo in western Germany, according to German daily Stern. The tiger wandered to an adjacent storage building where he attacked and killed a 43-year-old zookeeper.
The director of a zoo, Theo Pagel, shot the tiger from the roof a nearby building with a rifle, killing the animal.
The tiger was killed before he could enter public areas and armed officers and a helicopter were at the scene. Visitors at the zoo were evacuated and the zoo closed briefly. A special “Summer Night” event, at which people can visit the zoo after-hours, has been cancelled.
In another German paper, Kolner Express, Pagel described the incident as the “darkest day” of his life.
Altai had fathered three tiger cubs in late 2011 and was a Siberian tiger, an endangered species.
Police and members of the zoo’s board said that Pagel had done “the right thing” and that anesthesia was “not an option.”
The tiger’s escape is not the first time animals have done so this summer in a zoo in Germany. Human error — a gate that was not correctly closed — is reportedly the reason for what happened Saturday at the Cologne Zoo. The deaths of the keeper and the tiger are all the more tragic in this light.
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