UK

Sarah McClay's Brother Hits Out A Claims Death By Tiger Was Zookeeper's Fault

27/05/2013 12:57 BST | Updated 27/07/2013 10:12 BST
PA
Jae Jae, London Zoo's male Sumatran tiger at London Zoo's newly opened tiger enclosure at London Zoo, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 27, 2013. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The brother of a woman mauled to death by a tiger has hit out at claims that the attack was her own fault.

Sarah McClay, 24, died when she was mauled by a Sumatran tiger at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, on Friday afternoon.

Yesterday her brother Stephen said the family had been hurt by suggestions by the park's owner, David Gill, that she had died because of "keeper error" and a "sad error of judgment", the Sun said.

"These are unsubstantiated claims by a man with an obvious axe to grind," he said.

"My family and I feel his comments are ill-advised, premature and disrespectful.

"He's laying the blame squarely at her door before the official police inquiries have begun. It has caused hurt to our family."

In a statement yesterday Ms McClay's family thanked the efforts of the emergency services and said asked people to donate to a fund for the conservation of red squirrels in her memory.

Cumbria Police believe an elaborate enclosure of gates means the animals and its keepers should remain apart at all times - but this system failed with fatal consequences.

Detectives do not suspect foul play or suicide but say Ms McClay was doing her routine duties in an enclosure to which animals are not allowed access - when she was then confronted by the animal which somehow managed to gain access to the pen.

Officers are now trying to establish whether this was due to a technical fault or human error and have said there is no suggestion of foul play or issue of suicide or self-harm.

Writing on the park's Facebook page, Mr Gill said: "We have made a statement that from the investigations that have taken place it is clear that this tragedy was caused by a sad error of judgment and breach of protocols, in essence, keeper error.

"This is not blame, it is not anything but defining the facts as they appear.

"This does not mean Sarah killed herself on purpose it means simply she died from her own tragic mistake."