State Attorney to decide tiger keeper’s fate

Posted September 12, 2006 at 02:43 AM

TAMPA – Whether a former zookeeper should be charged for accidentally allowing a tiger to escape an enclosure at Lowry Park zoo is in the hands of the state attorney’s office.

The office on Monday received a report and recommendation that a misdemeanor charge be filed against the former handler, who apparently left a gate unlocked, enabling a rare Sumatran tiger named Enshalla to escape.

The tiger, which was born at the zoo, was killed Aug. 22 by several shotgun blasts when it tried to scale a fence and get into a public area.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission filed the documents recommending the charge, and it could take two weeks or more before a determination is made, courts spokeswoman Pam Bondi said.

If charged, the zookeeper, who was fired by the zoo, could face a charge of unsafe handling of captive wildlife resulting in an escape or injury. The charge is punishable by a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.

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