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Zoo still adjusting to new protocols as injured keeper in tiger incident is back at work

Zookeeper Kristyn Hayden-Ortega, the keeper injured in an incident with Sanjiv, a Sumatran Tiger at the Topeka Zoo, has returned to work.

“She’s going to be on a kind of light duty capacity for probably a couple more months,” said Zoo director Brendan Wiley. “The really good news there is, she’s back at work. Her attitude is exceptional. I think she realizes how fortunate she is given the events that she went through.”

The zoo is adjusting to the changes it has implemented after the incident.

“We do have new safety protocols in place in regard to cleaning our big cat enclosures and other potentially dangerous animals,” said Wiley. “Sometimes, it’s taking us longer to do that process now, just because we’ve got additional safety checks built into those systems.”

If you get to the zoo and the lions or tigers aren’t out yet, give it 15 minutes or a half hour and check back.

“We’re transitioning to a system that no one person has all the keys to open a door that could potentially allow the same situation to occur,” said Wiley. “It’s a continuous process of evaluation. Whenever there’s humans involved, there’s that opportunity for error. Our goal is to minimize that as much as possible.”

All the tigers have been and will continue to be on display on a regular basis, as long as they are healthy.

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