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Zookeeper attacked by tiger in Kansas improving, but remains in intensive care

Tiger attacks zookeeper in Kansas

Topeka, Kan. — The director of the Topeka Zoo says a zookeeper who was attacked by a Sumatran tiger remains in intensive care, but her prognosis for recovery is good. The zookeeper was attacked Saturday while in the outdoor tiger habitat of Sanjiv, a 7-year-old male tiger.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports zoo director Brendan Wiley said the zookeeper was talking Saturday night. Wiley said she remained in intensive care Sunday, but could be transferred out of the unit soon.

The woman has worked at the zoo since 2002 and has several years of experience with tigers.

Wiley said the zoo is conducting an investigation and will determine what protocol changes might be needed after talking to the injured employee.

Wiley said the zoo might have a psychologist onsite Monday for any staff members to talk to if needed, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. "It will be more of a normal day once we know our team member is on the way to a good recovery," he added.

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A view of the tiger exhibit at the Topeka Zoo. WIBW-TV

The tiger tackled the trainer in its outdoor habitat, Wiley said. She suffered lacerations and punctures to the back of her head, neck and back. Wiley said there was "no consideration" to euthanize the tiger, which was back on display Sunday.

The incident, which lasted under 10 minutes, occurred while the zoo was open to the public and others witnessed it. Molly Hadfield, a spokesperson for the city of Topeka, told CBS News the zoo shut down for 45 minutes, which at that time the lion was placed in a holding area.

According to the zoo's Facebook page, the tiger was transferred to Topeka from the Akron Zoo in 2017. Wiley said Sanjiv recently fathered four critically endangered cubs.

Justin Carissimo contributed to this report.