Topeka Zoo

A view of the tiger exhibit at the Topeka Zoo.

TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) -- Exactly what happened before a tiger attack at the Topeka Zoo will be reviewed by several outside agencies as an internal investigation continues.

Right after the attack, the zoo made a temporary change, two people must be present when moving large carnivores. It’s unclear if that change will be permanent.

As children and adults visited the Topeka Zoo on Saturday, some of the guests witnessed a horrific sight. A tiger named Sanjiv attacked a 17-year zoo keeper who was inside his enclosure.

“The most basic procedure that we have is that we don't share space with any of our large carnivores. Unfortunately, that didn't happen on Saturday,” Wriley Guffey, who is the Assistant Zoo Curator, said.

When an attack happens, the zoo staff’s goal is to save human life first. An armed team was on its way to the scene instructed to take a lethal shot if necessary.

“The tranquilizer is not always a viable option because of the scenario because it takes a long time to go through the system to sedate that animal properly,” Guffey said.

In a move that likely saved both the zoo keeper and the tiger’s life, fellow zoo employees lured the tiger back inside before the armed team arrived at the enclosure.

“Luckily, we didn't have to make that decision,” Guffey continued. “Thankfully I'm giving all the credit to our keeper’s relationship with that animal and also to our team's strong response and quick response.”

Finding out exactly what happened could be tough, the zoo’s current video cameras did not capture the attack.

“What we had in place wasn't good enough Saturday morning,” Brendan Wiley, who is the Topeka Zoo Director, said.

The USDA and Association of Zoos and Aquariums will look into the incident. More cameras could soon be added near the tiger exhibit.

Zoo officials believe it is possible that a guest captured video of the attack on their cell phone.

They are asking anyone with video of the incident to call the Topeka Zoo’s main office at 785-368-9180.

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