By Tamlyn Canham
Seaview Predator Park in Gqeberha has confirmed that a Siberian tiger killed one of its workers.
David Solomon was attacked by the tiger on Wednesday afternoon.
“The electric fencing in the enclosure housing Siberian tigers, Jasper and Jade, was in the process of being repaired when Jasper jumped on the exterior fence and got out.
“David was, unfortunately, in the passageway between enclosures walking towards the water supply taps when the incident occurred. David attempted to climb the fence of a different enclosure to get to safety and was pulled off the fence by Jasper,” the park said in a statement.
While David sustained bite wounds during the attack, the park says it appears that Jasper broke David’s neck when he pulled the man off the fence.
Jasper attacks another male tiger
“Jasper then proceeded to jump the exterior fence of the next door enclosure which houses Siberian tigers, Judah and Amber. A fight ensued between Judah and Jasper and Judah was killed. Jasper, being an entire male Siberian tiger, wanted the attention of Amber, an entire female Siberian Tiger,” the statement read.
The park was immediately closed after the incident. Members of the public who were near the tiger enclosures were taken to safety.
The two tigers, Jasper and Amber, were tranquilised to allow for Solomon’s remains, and the other tiger killed in the incident, to be retrieved.
Staff, volunteers heartbroken
Solomon worked with the park for around 15 years, according to the statement.
“[He] knew each of the animals since they were cubs. We are all one big family and the loss of David has left every single one of us heartbroken and traumatised, specifically the staff members and volunteers who were present when the incident occurred.
“David’s presence, jokes, willingness to teach our young volunteers and overall bubbling personality is going to be missed so much and we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and close friends. May his dear soul rest in peace,” the statement read.
The electric fencing is “fully functional” and all large cats are “safely contained in their enclosures”.
Officials believe Jasper’s attack, which was a first for the park, was “fuelled by hormones”.
The park remains closed on Thursday, June 17, out of respect for Solomon.