Horrified tourists watched a Siberian tiger maul a female zookeeper to death.
The 55-year-old big cat specialist was savaged by endangered tiger Irina after falling at Switzerland’s Zurich Zoo on Saturday afternoon.
Sightseers raised the alarm after five-year-old Irina pounced on the long-serving keeper during a feeding session.
A zoo spokesperson said: “The zoo’s internal emergency centre received a message that an animal keeper in the tiger facility had been attacked by a Siberian tiger.
“A group of zookeepers immediately moved to the enclosure.
“They succeeded in luring Irina away from the animal keeper, out of the facility and into the stable.
“Despite immediate resuscitation measures, the 55-year-old woman was unfortunately too late to help and died on the spot.”
Zoo director Severin Dressen later told reporters: “Our full sympathy is with the victim’s relatives.
“This is a young animal that so far has behaved entirely naturally as a tiger does”
He said added that the keeper was a long-serving member of zoo staff, and that visitors and colleagues who witnessed the attack would be offered counselling.
Irina was born in 2015 at a zoo in Odense, Denmark, and moved to Zurich two years ago.
She replaced a female tiger who died from complications after a fight with male tiger Sayan.
In 2017 zookeeper Keeper Rosa King was mauled to death by an eight-year-old tiger while she cleaned his enclosure at Hamerton Zoo in Cambridgeshire.
Before her death, she had opened the gates to Malayan tiger Cicip’s enclosure, meaning the animal had access to visiting families and children.
The enclosure was secured 80 minutes after her death when a member of the public spotted Rosa’s bloodied body.
Assistant Coroner Nicholas Moss said it was by “chance” that young children and their families were not killed by the tiger.