Transcript for Zoo director speaks out after zookeeper attacked by tiger
And we are back now with that terrifying attack in Kansas. Zookeeper miraculously surviving after an encounter with a 275-pound tiger. But there are questions this morning about why she was inside that enclosure. ABC's Zachary kiesch spoke with the zoo director and has more from Topeka. Good morning, Zachary. Reporter: Cecilia, good morning to you. Just a truly remarkable story. Picture this for a moment. Just a couple minutes after the park opened, there was a small group of visitors who actually saw this tiger attack happened. They were shocked but they sprang into action, grabbed the elephant keeper without flinching came over here to save their friend and colleague. We have staff getting attacked by a tiger. Reporter: This morning, a zookeeper is in intensive care after being attacked by a tiger. Advised staff is still in the enclosure. The tiger is still next to them attacking. Reporter: Sanjiv, a 275-pound sumatra tiger was here when he pounced on an employee. A group saw the incident and alerted workers. Employees used food to lure the animal into a different space. Our staff response saved the keeper's life. Saved the tiger's life. And it truly is a miracle what happened. It could have been so much worse. Reporter: Zoo officials have launched a full investigation saying there were no mechanical errors with the tiger's habitat. Is there any reason that a person should be in the same space as one of these animals? No. There's no reason for a staff person and the animal to share the same space. Reporter: This webcam video caught the caretaker shortly before the incident. The victim suffered lacerations and wounds to her upper body. She's described as meticulous. This zookeeper and this tiger are both valuable parts of this family. Both very much of about who we are and what we do. Reporter: This just the latest in a string of disturbing We have a lion attack. Reporter: Earlier this year, a line killed 22-year-old Alex black, an intern working at an animal conservation center in North Carolina. According to reports, a large play ball blocked the gate and prevented the door from closing. The zoo says they were not euthanize sanjiv, an endangered species that fathered four cubs. Ron, this investigation is under way. What are the first questions that investigators are looking to get answered here? Well, it's like the director there's no reason why a keeper or any staff member should be in that space as an alert adult tiger. As an accredited facility, there's nothing that would allow that. Why they're in the same space and why. Let's stay on that, do you have any sense of why the zookeeper would need to be in that enclosure? She was very experienced, they say? I can tell you, Cecilia, from personal experience, about 25 years ago, a keeper I worked with, a good friend of mine was killed by a tiger at our zoo. This is an experienced person. The only way I can explain this, Cecilia, sometimes your mind is not there. You're not paying attention. I don't know if you ever were driving home and getting in your driveware and you don't remember getting home. At the end of the day, it resulted with human error. And it's hard to protect against human error. The only thing I could think maybe she assumed she had already put the tiger in. Or the day before, it was secured the day before. There's no way of knowing. Thankfully, she survived, she'll be able to explain those things. Thankfully, those other keepers were able to jump in. We also heard about the other story in North Carolina. Is this just coincidence, or are we hearing about these attacks more frequently? I want to think it's a coincidence. It's tragic, it's horrific, it's happening. But keep in mind, you know, zoos, especially across the country, more people go to zoos than all of the NFL, NBA, baseball games combined. There's a tremendous amount of anticipation in these areas. It gets a lot of attention. It's almost like a plane crash, unfortunately. Ron, thank you for your insight.
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