There are places to which I’d never go. There are places to which I’d never go unarmed. Inside a cage with tigers qualifies on both counts. And just in case, I wear a gun when I visit a zoo. I know what you’re thinking: the chances of being attacked by an animal at a zoo are less than the chances of being attacked at, say, a playground. Here’s the funny thing: not three weeks ago my daughter and I visited the Palm Beach Zoo and watched a tiger talk by Stacey Konwiser. That would be the same Stacey Konwiser in this news story from cbsnews.com . . .
For three years, Stacey Konwiser pursued her passion at the Palm Beach Zoo – working with the zoo’s 4 Malayan tigers.
On Friday, as she prepared behind the scenes for her routine “Tiger Talk” with the public at 2 p.m., something went terribly wrong with one of the tigers she worked with.
Palm Beach Zoo spokesperson Naki Carter would not say exactly what happened other than the attack occurred in a “night house” where the tigers eat and sleep.
Carter said that immediately after the attack a code red was established.
The tiger was tranquilized, but rescuers had to wait until the drugs took effect on the animal before they could rescue Konwiser.
She was airlifted to a hospital, where she died a short time later.
I fully appreciate the zoo’s reticence to shoot their tigers — assuming the Zoo has firearms on hand to protect the public — and rescue the keeper in a more timely perhaps even life-saving fashion. I suspect that Ms. Konwiser would’ve been appalled at the idea of an armed rescue. She probably would have agreed with Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill who declared “This is not the tiger’s fault. For a tiger to behave this way – it’s a tiger being a tiger.”
Yes, well, I’m glad I wasn’t there at the time of the attack. Can you imagine the sh*tstorm if I or another concealed carrier had fired a gun to save the keeper and killed a tiger or two? Times two if Ms. Konwiser had died anyway. The only person who’d be happy with that turn of events would be the dentist who shot and killed Cecil the Lion; he’d be grateful that someone finally took the heat for “murdering” an “innocent” animal.
Ms. Konwiser should have been armed when within striking distance of the tigers. That said, it’s easy to understand why she wasn’t. In any case, our condolences to Ms. Konwiser’s family, friends and colleagues. Stay armed, my friends. And think very carefully before intervening to save innocent life. But don’t take too long. When seconds count, seconds count.