The parents of a zoo keeper killed when a tiger entered the enclosure she was in have paid tribute to their “beloved daughter”.
Rosa King was killed at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire on Monday.
The 34-year-old’s parents, Peter and Andrea, thanked well-wishers who they said had shown an “abundance of love and sympathy”.
“Rosa was a dedicated professional when it came to her work,” they said in a statement.
“She lived and breathed a vocation that meant the world to her, living her dream.
“She had a care and understanding of her animals that was a joy and privilege to behold.”
Ms King’s parents said she also leaves a younger brother, Mark, who, “like his parents, had nothing but love and admiration for her”.
They told how she was passionate about animals since she first sat on a horse at the age of two.
“After that, her life was always going to be about animals,” their statement continued.
“She lived her life to the full and was a very caring, generous person.
“She would stand up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves including the animals and campaigned and raised money for animal charities.”
Ms King did a skydive in 2014 to raise money for charity Animal Asia before travelling to China to visit their sanctuary for Asian Black bears, known as moon bears, her parents said.
She had also recently returned from a trip to visit a rehabilitation centre for sun bears in Borneo.
Her family said her whole attitude to the animal kingdom could be summed up in the statement: “When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal.
“I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.”
Distressed staff at the zoo near Huntingdon are said to have thrown meat into the enclosure in a bid to distract the tiger and help Ms King on the morning of the attack.
Cambridgeshire police said the tiger was not harmed and a joint investigation with Huntingdonshire District Council is ongoing.
The zoo remains closed while the investigation is underway.
A Hamerton zoo spokesman said: “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Rosa’s family and friends, many of whom worked alongside her at the zoo.”
The zoo was told to improve its emergency systems following an inspection in 2013.
But the council refused to confirm whether it was the latest inspection or if the findings were complied with.