A Kansas zookeeper who was attacked by a Sumatran tiger at the Topeka Zoo over the weekend is on the mend, officials said Monday.
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The zookeeper, whose name has not been released, was removed from an intensive care unit Sunday night, but remains in a hospital, Molly Hadfield, a spokeswoman for the city of Topeka, told ABC News on Monday.
The 17-year employee of the Topeka Zoo was attacked on Saturday by a 275-pound Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv when she entered the animal's enclosure at about 9:15 a.m., officials said.
An investigation into why the zookeeper was in the same enclosure with the 7-year-old tiger is underway.
"There really isn't a circumstance where they should be in the same space. So there was some sort of error that occurred," Brendan Wiley, director of the Topeka Zoo, told ABC News.
Authorities have found no problems with gates or fencing in the exhibit that would suggest the tiger had escaped from a separate locked area while the zookeeper was in the animal's exhibit.
“”There really isn't a circumstance where they should be in the same space. So there was some sort of error that occurred.
Video from a webcam observed by ABC News showed the zookeeper walking in the tiger's enclosure, apparently dragging a water hose just before the attack occurred.
"As an accredited facility, there's no policy that would allow that," Ron Magill, a wildlife expert from the Zoo Miami, said in an interview Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "So that's going to be the first thing they're going to look at -- how these two were in the same space and why."
Hadfield said authorities are waiting for the zookeeper to recover more before they interview her about why she was in the enclosure with the tiger.
“”Our staff response saved a keeper's life, saved the tiger's life, and it truly is a miracle what happened
The zookeeper suffered lacerations and puncture wounds to her head, neck, back and arms, Wiley said.
The attack was witnessed by several visitors, who immediately ran to help, officials said.
"Our staff response saved a keeper's life, saved the tiger's life, and it truly is a miracle what happened. It could have been so much worse," Shanna Simpson, animal care supervisor at the zoo, told ABC News.
Zoo workers lured Sanjiv back into an enclosed space in the zoo with food, Wiley said. He added that "this could have been a very different outcome."
Sanjiv, who recently fathered four cubs, will not be euthanized because, Wiley said, the tiger was just acting naturally.
"While this incident is very unfortunate, he did what a wild tiger does," Wiley said.
The incident marked the third major attack on a human in the U.S. by an animal in captivity in less than five months.
In December, Alexandra Black, a 22-year-old intern at the Conservators Center in Burlington, North Carolina, was attacked and killed by a lion while helping to clean out the animal's enclosure. An investigation determined that a large ball had blocked a gate to a separate holding pen, allowing the lion to escape and get to Black, officials said.
Earlier this month, 75-year-old Marvin Hajos was attacked and killed by a cassowary, a large exotic bird similar to an emu, that he kept as a pet on his property in the Gainesville, Florida, suburb of Alachua. The cassowary, which has knife-like claws and is known to animal experts as the "world’s most dangerous bird," attacked Hojos when he tripped and fell, authorities said.