Human Error Leaves Zookeeper, Tiger Dead in Germany

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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Photo by Lestidae


Marija M.
Marija M4 years ago

very sad story,
tks for sharing

olesya p.
olesya p.4 years ago

stupid zoo keepers... JUST CLOSE THE F*** GATES!!! they could have shot the tiger with sleeping pills shich will just put him to sleep for some time, and move him back to his cage, but no.. the stupidity of human race progresses

Marilyn Traver
Marilyn Traver4 years ago


Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

I'm with Frances D. Alarms that alert workers when a door is improperly closed are a cheap and easy fix to avoid tragedies like this. Humans panic when one of us dies in the jaws and claws of a big predator; we're hard wired to do so for obvious evolutionary reasons. When a large predator in the wild has turned 'maneater', they do need to be killed, regrettable as that is; but in a zoo, where they should have no opportunity to repeat their act of aggression unless another human affords them that opportunity, this execution was completely unneccessary. On the other hand, how many zookeepers would have been miserable and terrified to have to work around an animal who killed one of them? It's a dilemma we should, and could, easily avoid.

Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy4 years ago

Very, very sad. .Surely the doors could be alarmed to alert workers that they are open.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W4 years ago

very sad

Rosa mc
Lydia Mcintyre4 years ago

I hate zoos! The Animals look so unhappy there. They are not much better than the circus atmosphere.

Berty Jardine
Berty Jardine4 years ago

Sickenly sad

Marianne Forgo
Marianne Forgo4 years ago

Sad story.Killing the tiger was not faire.

stewart s.
stew s4 years ago

Bull-fu-king-sh-t!!! Sedation/tranqulizers are ALWAYS an option. A tiger or ANY wild animal in captivity should NEVER have to pay with theirlife because of stupid human error. God damn the a-hole who killed the tiger,and God damn the freaking idiot who did not cloe the gate properly. This zoo should be held accountable!!!