WEST PALM BEACH, FL (CNN) – A zoo keeper was attacked by a rare species of tiger at a Florida zoo, Friday afternoon.
38-year-old Stacey Konwiser was bit and later died of her injuries.
Just before 2pm, the head tiger-keeper for Florida’s Palm Beach Zoo was getting ready for an event at the zoo.
Konwiser was going to answer questions from guests about the four rare and endangered Malayan Tigers housed there, three males and one female.
She was in the so-called “night house,” an enclosed area where the tigers eat and sleep when she was bitten by one of the male tigers.
Police and zoo officials had to tranquilize the tiger before they could reach Konwiser who was airlifted to the nearest hospital.
“The love they have for these animals. You don’t get into this business without the love for these animals and understanding the danger that’s involved even more,” said zoo spokesperson Naki Carter.
The tiger-keeper’s injuries were so severe that she died at the hospital.
Konwiser was working to help breed the Malayan Tigers in an effort to save their species.
The zoo has not said which of the male tigers bit her and the animal is contained according to zoo officials.
Konwiser worked at the zoo for three years, along with her husband who is a trainer there.
“This particular keeper this was her specialty this is what she was trained to deal and loved. [She] loved tigers,” said Carter.
Attacks by zoo animals are relatively rare in the US.
In 2007, a Siberian Tiger named Tatiana escaped her open air enclosure in the San Francisco Zoo and attacked three guests, one 17-year-old boy was killed.
Tatiana was shot and killed by police after the mauling.
Details on how and why Stacey Konwiser was bitten by this tiger are still unknown. The zoo is now being investigated and remains closed.