09:01 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 18, 2007
SAN ANTONIO—A zookeeper attacked by a tiger at the San Antonio Zoo had forgotten to close and lock a series of gates behind him before releasing the large cat from its den into the exhibit yard, a zoo official said Wednesday.
The 244-pound tiger named Berani knocked down Jeff Tierney, bit him in the head several times and dragged him into a service hallway Saturday, said Steve McCusker, the zoo’s executive director.
When the Sumatran tiger released Tierney for a moment, he was able to grab some pepper spray to corral the 5-year-old tiger into its yard.
The exhibit is in an enclosed area separated from visitors by a moat and bars. Several people witnessed the attack.
“Jeff was very fortunate,” McCusker told the San Antonio Express-News in its online edition.
Berani is one of two Sumatran tigers at the zoo.
The other is a female.
Tierney, 28, remained in stable condition at University Hospital, where he was airlifted after the attack, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.