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Animals Do Escape: German Tiger Did, Killed Zookeeper, and Got Killed

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 26th, 2012

Altai is dead. And so is a zookeeper.

Nose and patterns on the heads of tigers are identification indictors. Altai had a unique “alien-like” mark on his face.

A new example of what usually happens when large non-native mammals escape occurred at a zoo in Germany this weekend. This animal did not join the countryside to be misidentified as a “cryptid,” we must point out.

A tiger escaped its enclosure at Cologne Zoo in western Germany on Saturday, August 25, 2012, and then killed a female keeper before being shot dead by the zoo’s director, police reported.

The tiger slipped through a passage between the enclosure and an adjacent storage building, because the door was left ajar. It proceeded to fatally attack the 43-year-old keeper in a storage area (not a public area), said police spokesman Stefan Kirchner. “It appears the gate wasn’t properly shut,” Kirchner told The Associated Press.

The zoo was evacuated and a SWAT team was called in. But before it arrived the zoo’s director managed to kill the tiger by climbing onto the storage building and shooting it through a skylight using a high-caliber rifle.

“This is the darkest day of my life,” the zoo’s director, Theo Pagel, was quoted as saying by Cologne newspaper Express.

The paper said on its website that the Siberian tiger was a 4-year-old male called Altai that came to Cologne Zoo from an animal park in England. In November it fathered three cubs with a 7-year-old Siberian tiger called Hanya, according to the zoo’s website.

Police said the zoo reopened after Saturday’s incident, which occurred around noon (1000 GMT; 5 a.m. EDT). However, a planned late-night opening of the zoo has been canceled.

Cologne Zoo is one of the oldest in Germany. It was founded in 1860 and houses some 10,000 animals comprising more than 700 different species.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


4 Responses to “Animals Do Escape: German Tiger Did, Killed Zookeeper, and Got Killed”

  1. DWA responds:

    About as sad as it gets. A lot of people are probably in a lot of pain today.

  2. Richard888 responds:

    Call me naive but I don’t understand why when a zoo animal kills a person, it then has to be killed. Who cares if it has tasted human blood? It was dangerous before anyway. And it will not be dangerous anymore if it is in a cage. To me these sound like revenge killings. They disgust me.

  3. CelticBull responds:

    It had to be killed, because the zookeeper was still in the cage with the tiger. There wasn’t enough time to sedate the animal.

  4. Markus responds:

    The police is still investigating what happend exactly. However this incident opened the discussion in Germany about keeping big cats (and other more dangerous wild animals) in captivity (once again).

    @Richard: I don’t think that the problem was that Altai tasted human blood. I think that the keeper probably was still alive or at least they thought it. Therefore it was needed to rescue her immediatley (think of the loss of blood). So the decision was to kill the tiger what seems faster than waiting until he is stunned.



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