Sunday, July 22, 2018
News Roundup

Grief, questions remain after zookeeper's death

MIAMI — South Florida zoo staffers and friends of a veteran keeper attacked and killed by a Malayan tiger met Saturday morning to mourn her death as investigators sought clues as to what led the tiger to violently turn on his caretaker.

Palm Beach Zoo officials also announced Saturday that the zoo would remained closed over the weekend after the death of Stacey Konwiser, 38, who was killed by the 13-year-old male tiger Friday in an enclosure known as the night house.

Tigers sleep and are fed in the night house, which is not visible to the public, according to zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter.

On Saturday morning, Konwiser's husband, Jeremy, also a Palm Beach Zoo keeper, read a "note of support" to staff, said Carter, who added that the zoo is trying to establish a memorial fund in Konwiser's honor.

"This is a very difficult situation for all Zoo staff, the Konwiser family and her extended Zoo family," a statement from zoo officials said.

Jan Steele, the zoo's general curator, said in a statement that Konwiser was preparing the night house for the evening routine, which includes cleaning and feeding. She was airlifted from the scene.

The tiger was tranquilized, and authorities had to wait until the sedative took effect before they could come to Konwiser's aid, West Palm Beach police spokeswoman Lori Colombino said.

The animal never escaped, and the public was never in danger, the zoo said.

"The zoo has a safety protocol in place for crisis situations and these protocols were employed today. Immediately after the Code Red was issued guests, who were never in any danger, were ushered out of the Zoo in an orderly fashion and the Zoo went into lockdown," Carter said in statement Friday.

It's unclear why the Malayan tiger was not killed, but zoo officials said it is one of only 250 such tigers known to exist in the world.

Carter said the zoo, which has four similar tigers, serves as a "breeding ground to make sure they don't become extinct."

The keeper's death is being investigated by West Palm Beach police, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials and by federal authorities with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund says the zookeeper's death was preventable and urged federal authorities to impose penalties against the zoo.

"As long as employees are allowed to work in dangerously close proximity to tigers, elephants, and other dangerous animals, a significant risk of serious injury or death persists," the California-based group said in a statement.

Since 1990, according to the group, at least 24 deaths— and 265 injuries — were caused by "captive big cats" in the United States. "These attacks, and scenarios where an animal escapes, have also resulted in the deaths of over 128 big cats—many of whom were endangered species," the group said.

Konwiser's death was the first of "a human involved in an animal incident in the 60-year history of the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society," zoo officials said.

Carter, the zoo spokeswoman, said Konwiser was "efficient and proficient" at her job and, on the afternoon of the attack, she said Konwiser was doing her daily chores.

"This was not out of the norm," Carter said. "What occurred was out of the norm."

Konwiser had just accepted a job with the federal government, with a long-term goal of working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Palm Beach Zoo was creating a new position in an effort to persuade her to stay.

Konwiser had been working with tigers at the zoo for three years and was passionate about them, Carter said.

"She loved tigers and they loved her," she said.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

 
Comments
Tiger Woods was in British Open hunt. Now another major win doesn’t seem so improbable.

Tiger Woods was in British Open hunt. Now another major win doesn’t seem so improbable.

He was in the hunt. For real.False alarm?Did you care?For what seemed like days (it wasn't even an hour), Tiger Woods sat atop a leaderboard at a golf major Sunday.With everyone fading, he was 7 under and all alone at the British Open at Carnoustie w...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Francesco Molinari wins British Open on crazy day at Carnoustie

Francesco Molinari wins British Open on crazy day at Carnoustie

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Francesco Molinari played a steady hand amid the cheers for Tiger Woods and another crazy ending at Carnoustie to win the British Open on Sunday and become Italy's first major champion.Woods brought pandemonium by chargin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Reactions vary to new USF football uniforms

Reactions vary to new USF football uniforms

Public sentiment remained mixed late Sunday afternoon on the new USF football uniforms unveiled earlier in the day.A brief video of Bulls TE Mitch Wilcox modeling an all-forest green version of the uniforms was released on the football program's offi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Daniel Robertson hits pinch-hit walkoff grand slam to lift Rays over Marlins

Daniel Robertson hits pinch-hit walkoff grand slam to lift Rays over Marlins

ST. PETERSBURG — Daniel Robertson hit a pinch-hit walkoff grand slam, and the Rays rallied to beat the Marlins 6-4 Sunday at Tropicana Field.It's the first walkoff grand slam in Rays history and the second walkoff hit of Robertson's major-leagu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
South Tampa softball all-stars head to Southeast Regional

South Tampa softball all-stars head to Southeast Regional

TAMPA — Emilee Mezrah could have been on vacation in the Bahamas playing in the surf.Instead she’s on vacation in Georgia playing softball in the dirt.Beach vs. softball …"I chose softball," said Mezrah, a seventh grader at Coleman Middle School. "Ri...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

A local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is holding a vigil Sunday for a black man who was killed Thursday in what authorities are calling a "stand your ground" shooting.The vigil for the family of Markeis McGl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

BRANSON, Mo. - The Coleman family had initially thought of going on a vacation to Florida for their annual trip, but the drive was too long for some elderly relatives who wanted to join. The Colemans settled on going to Branson, a southwestern Missou...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

WASHINGTON - Executive time began early on Thursday, just after sunrise.Feeling exasperated and feisty as he awoke in the White House residence, President Donald Trump firedoff his grievances on Twitter about how the media had been covering his Helsi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

Nothing will ruin your beach vacation faster than a sunburn.Get scorched, and suddenly everything that was meant to be fun isn’t: Massages at the spa hurt, day-drinking by the pool hurts, getting on jet skis hurts. Listening to your skincare-obsessed...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office have released the names of two people killed in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide Saturday.At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Alisa Medovich, 23, of Holiday, was shot and killed by Mario Medina...
Updated: 1 hour ago