Naki N. Carter
Public Relations Manager
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the investigation continues into the tragic death of Lead Keeper Stacey Konwiser, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society remains closed as it cooperates with West Palm Beach Police, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission and OSHA.
The male tiger involved in the deadly incident has recovered from a tranquilizer at the nonprofit organization. Members of Palm Beach Zoo management met with staff early Saturday to mourn together. A note of support was read from Konwiser’s husband, Jeremy, also a keeper at Palm Beach Zoo. The Zoo is working with family members to establish a memorial fund in Konwiser’s honor.
Konwiser was airlifted from Palm Beach Zoo on Friday following an incident in the tiger night house. This is a behind-the-scenes area where tigers are fed and sleep. “Konwiser was preparing the night house for the evening routine, which includes cleaning and feeding,” said General Curator Jan Steele. Officials are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.
The 38-year-old was a beloved member of the Palm Beach Zoo family, who had just passed her three year anniversary at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited organization. Out of the thousands of zoos in the nation, Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is one of 230 AZA accredited zoos.
“Konwiser had recently accepted a position with the FDA, looking at long-term career progression to get into U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. We were in the process of crafting another position to retain her,” Steele said.
This marks the first death of a human involved in an animal incident in the 60-year history of the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society. Zoo officials made arrangements to move a wedding planned for Saturday night to another venue.
Grief counselors remain available to zoo staff affected by this tragic incident. “Our focus remains on providing the adequate support for our staff and family members who have been affected by this tragic incident,” Steele said.
This is a very difficult situation for all Zoo staff, the Konwiser family and her extended Zoo family. We ask the media and public to respect the privacy of those involved during this difficult time.
The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society will remain closed throughout the weekend.
About the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
As a private organization that does not receive government funding, The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. We advance our conservation mission through endangered species propagation, education and support of conservation initiatives in the field. Our commitment to sustainable business practices elevates our capacity to inspire others. The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is located at 1301 Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.