KSNT News has obtained a copy of the 911 call describing the tiger attack at the Topeka Zoo in great detail, as it happened.
The witness watched in horror as staff members tried to separate the tiger from the keeper and urged the dispatcher to send emergency crews quickly.
Dispatch: “911 whats the emergency?”
Caller: “We need an ambulance at the zoo. There is a keeper being hurt by a tiger.”
Dispatch: “Alright one second, one second.”
Caller: “Hurry please.”
There was panic at the zoo, as the 911 caller watched zookeepers rush to try and help their coworker escape from the tiger.
Caller: “Oh god, I don’t know. Somebody said they might have to shoot the tiger.”
Each second was spent worrying about the permanent damage the 7-year-old tiger named Sanjiv could do to his primary handler Krysten Hayden-Ortega.
Caller: “They’re going to try to move him over here, because they’re keeping him calm. She stayed calm…Oh, oh my god. He just grabbed her hand. He grabbed her hand and her hair.”
Then there was finally relief, as the other zookeepers who rushed to help managed to lure him away with food.
Caller: “They got him separated. Yes he’s secure.”
Dispatch: “Ok, alright well if you can let anybody know. I’m sure they’re already aware but just reassure them that help’s on the way if you can, ok?”
Once the immediate danger was over, another emergency began.
Caller: “We have two game wardens and they’re actually helping now, and three other zookeepers and lots of towels on her to control the bleeding and stuff.”
Dispatch: “Ok, alright.”
Caller: “Yeah they should be in here pretty soon.”
Hayden-Ortega was treated for multiple cuts and puncture wounds to her head, neck, back, and arm and was rushed to the hospital. That’s where she remains, in stable condition.
Now zoo director Brendan Wiley has vowed to investigate how the tiger gained access to the same area as the keeper, so it never happens again.
“They witnessed a team member, they witnessed a friend, in a horrible situation. We are all so so thankful it ended with the best outcome possible,” Wiley said.
You can listen to the full 911 call below.