Taming Tigers: Overfeeding, Drugging, and The Expert Carnivore Keeper Mauled to Death

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By Heat Street Staff | 3:46 pm, June 2, 2017
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No matter how long it’s been caged, a wild tiger is never tame. Though around the world so-called conservationists are drugging and overfeeding the beasts in order to placate them in captivity.

Siberian tiger trying to catch a chicken. (AFP/Getty Images)

The death of a devoted zookeeper in the U.K. is the latest example of what can happen when human beings are in close proximity to tigers.

34-year-old zookeeper Rosa King was inside the tiger enclosure at the Hamberton Zoo Park. Then the tiger she was caring for viciously turned on her. There was a “blood curdling scream.” Fellow zookeepers rushed to the enclosure, and tried, from the other side of the fence, to get the beast’s attention by hurling slabs of meat at it. It was all over very quickly. The tiger was not dissuaded from it what it wanted. Rosa King died on the scene.

Zookeeper Rosa King poses with a tiger at the Hamberton Zoo.

The Hamberton Zoo called the tragic death a “freak accident,” which seems to indicate that somehow the tiger did something out of the ordinary. Of course these creatures are kept in zoos all over the world and attacks do not happen every day. But as we’ve learned from similar incidents over the years, a wild beast attacking a human is very much in character.

Many Americans remember the terrible incident in 2003 involving the entertainers Siegfried and Roy who performed a famous tiger act in Las Vegas for years. A “male tiger, used in the show hundreds of times, sunk his teeth into Roy’s neck and triggered a stroke.” Roy survived but has regained only partial ability to walk and talk.

Despite its dangers, the British zookeeper, Ms. King, was hugely devoted to her job, often called the “shining light” of the tiger exhibition. In a tweet from 2013 she referred to one of the zoo’s white Bengal tigers, saying: “Bless my Blizzard.”

Her mother Andrea King paid tribute to Rosa, saying: “She wouldn’t have done anything else, it’s what she has always done, it’s what she has always loved.”

According to the Hamberton Zoo, the tiger which killed Rosa has not been put to death.

The human attempt to tame tigers in captivity takes many forms. Tiger sanctuaries in places such as Thailand and India drug their animals to calm them and then make money by allowing tourists to take their photos with the totally stoned cats. These photos are a staple of online dating profiles, particularly for some men who seem to believe that their attractiveness is somehow enhanced by displaying their ability to pay $40 to pose with a sleeping beast.

Tourists with TIgers in Thailand.
A tourist paying to pose with a tiger in Thailand.

The tiger photos are perhaps a symbol of “taming nature” or some other dubious, not so subliminal, message intended for members of the opposite sex.

One of the other more famous Tiger exhibitions is in Harbin, China where the large collection of Siberian tigers lures tourists. Conservationists recently worried that the tigers there are being fed some much they’ve become dangerously obese. In the Winter zookeepers sometimes cut back on the food and will entertain tourists by hurling meat in the air to induce the beasts into mad dashes in the snow and wild flips as they lunge for food.