Palm Beach Zoo lead keeper killed by Malayan tiger

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Credit: The Palm Beach Zoo

UPDATE: Funeral arrangements are underway for veteran zookeeper, Stacey Konwiser, who was killed in an incident involving a tiger at The Palm Beach Zoo,

The Palm Beach Zoo confirms one of its female zookeepers has passed away after an accident with a tiger Friday afternoon.

According to Naki Carter, spokesperson for the Palm Beach Zoo, the tiger injured the female zookeeper inside a contained area. The victim was flown by trauma hawk to a local hospital for treatment, where she passed away after being in critical condition.

Palm Beach Zoo officials say the trainer mauled by Malayan tiger was veteran zookeeper, Stacey Konwiser. Konwiser, 38, died after being mauled before the "Tiger Talk" show at 2 p.m.  Knowiser had been working at the Palm Beach Zoo for three years.

The tiger is a 13- year-old Malayan tiger.  The tiger was tranquilized and rescue workers were waiting for the drug to take effect before they could attend to the victim.

Guests were not at risk. A group of guests were taken into a gift shop as a precaution.The zoo said it will remain closed Friday, and will make a determination about Saturday later.

Zoo officials say the zoo keeper’s husband was also a zoo keeper there. Grief counselors had been sent in for the staff, and zoo officials said they were reaching out to family members, who live out of state. They declined to comment on whether there had been other incidents with the tiger.

Konwiser's husband, Jeremy Konwiser, made a brief statement that was read on his behalf to other zoo staff members.

"Please thank everyone for their support and kind words. This is a tragic and traumatic event for the zoo family but together we can help each other heal. Human beings and animals lost a wonderful friend."

The couple has no children. Konwiser's family are on the way to the area.

The investigation continues with the help of multiple agencies. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they planned to investigate. Occupational Safety and Health administration were also investigating. 

The Zoo is working with family members to establish a memorial fund in Konwiser's honor.