WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Andrew Aiken, the CEO & President of the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society addressed members of the media Thursday following the death of lead keeper Stacey Konwiser.
Konwiser died following an attack by a male Malayan tiger on April 15, 2016. In the midst of ongoing investigations, the Zoo’s CEO confirms that it remains unclear why the lead keeper, who was in charge of several keepers, entered a space marked accessible by a tiger.
“I would like to reemphasize that we are not here today to place blame on anyone. A life was lost on April 15. Jeremy Konwiser lost his best friend, partner and soul-mate. The Feige family lost a daughter and the Zoo family lost a beloved colleague,” Aiken said at the Melvin J. & Claire Levine Animal Care Complex on the Zoo’s campus.
Following the incident in the tiger night house, an area in the back of the tiger exhibit where the public does not have access, Konwiser was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital.
“We have a few questions that we can answer and there are some questions we may never be able to answer,” Aiken said.
Aiken emphasized that the Zoo’s decision to tranquilize the animal was the right one, while emphasizing that human life remains a priority at the Zoo, which has 25 years of accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
“I want to assure the public that the Zoo is safe. The Zoo is in good hands. We are still in sorrow over the loss of Stacey. We have taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of our employees and the public.”
The Zoo has begun an immediate review of all safety procedures with keepers, who are now required to use a two-person system anytime tigers move from one location to another.
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.
“Speaking on behalf of the entire Zoo family I can tell you that we are still grieving. We are working to get past the loss of an employee and friend. We are still investigating the matter. There is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the details of April 15.”
To answer community and media inquiries, the Zoo has announced the creation of a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page at www.palmbeachzoo.org to keep the community, media and supporters updated on the ongoing investigation.
About the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
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.