A Siberian tiger escaped its enclosure at the Cologne Zoo in Cologne, Germany Saturday and mauled its 43-year old female keeper to death. The tiger was then shot dead before it could get to a public area and cause more harm.
Vistors were rushed to safety, and the zoo was briefly shut down, BBC News reports.
According to police, Altai, the 4-year old tiger, escaped through a gate that had not been shut properly, Sky News reports.
Altai was shot dead by the zoo director,Theo Pagel, RT reports.
"This is the darkest day of my life," Pagel said.
According to Sky News, Pagel said he was not at the zoo when the zookeeper was killed.
"I was not at the zoo at the time, and I only came later and shot and killed the animal, so we could enter the enclosure and take a look," he said. "But the employee was already dead," he continued.
"Out of respect for the family, we will not name the person."
Altai had been in the Cologne Zoo since last April, RT reports. He was paired up with a 7-year old companion named Hanya. Last November, the couple brought 3 cubs into the world.
Police have said it is unlikely that members of the public witnessed Saturday's tragic incident.
According to Sky News, Cologne Zoo opened in 1860, and is one of the oldest and most popular zoos in Germany. It is home to about 10,000 animals from 700 species.
This is not the first incident this year where animals have escaped from their zoo enclosures in Germany.
Last month, five chimpanzees broke out of their pen at Germany's Hanover Experience Zoo. The chimps terrorized members of the public and injured a 5-year old girl.