A young female zookeeper headed into an enclosure to feed a 15-year-old Siberian tiger, when out of the blue the big cat attacked her, in full view of shocked onlookers. As the tiger appeared to go in for the kill, the onlookers threw anything they could get their hands on at the cat, managing to distract him and saving her life.

Zookeeper goes to feed the Siberian tiger

As reported by the Express, the incident happened recently at the Kaliningrad Zoo in Russia. A female zookeeper was tasked with feeding Taifun (Typhoon in English), a 15-year-old Siberian tiger.

The tiger was supposed to be contained in a separate area of the enclosure while she brought in its food, but somehow was loose in the enclosure and instantly headed in for the attack.

Photos taken at the scene showed the woman lying on her back and screaming, apparently trying to fight off the attack, with the tiger looming over her. As visitors to the zoo watched in horror, some onlookers started throwing stones at the animal. Other men grabbed chairs and a table from a nearby café to hurl at the Siberian tiger. After these onlookers distracted the animal, the woman managed to escape to a secure area of the compound.

Onlookers call an ambulance for the zookeeper

As reported by the Daily Record, one witness to the incident told the Russian media that the woman’s face was bleeding, saying she was screaming and trying to fight off the Siberian tiger. The unnamed zookeeper suffered several injuries and was badly hurt, and with no other zoo employees around, onlookers called for an ambulance.

The woman was instantly rushed to a nearby hospital where she is expected to survive the experience, thanks to those same zoo visitors.

A spokesman for the zoo said the animal had managed to enter the enclosure while the zookeeper was bringing in his food, adding that the tiger went on to attack the human.

The spokesman said after the keeper had managed to access a back room in the enclosure, zoo staff was able to shoot the Siberian tiger with a sedative.

A spokesman for the local health ministry said the zookeeper arrived at the hospital with several wounds to her body and limbs, but is conscious and in a stable condition, although still critical.

Kaliningrad is a region of Russia located between Poland and Lithuania. According to sources, a criminal investigation has been launched into the incident. Taifun was born at Chelyabinsk Zoo in July 2001 and was later transferred to Kaliningrad Zoo. According to a spokesperson for the zoo, the tiger had never attacked humans before.