The death of a staff member at the safari park in Rancagua has spawned several versions of what transpired. Sources close to the victim claim the administration is to blame. But management claims confusion was the cause.
The circumstances around the death of safari park worker Catalina Torres (21) are still unclear.
Torres was a tour guide at the park in Rancagua, but last Friday she had to clear a white tiger’s cage. Yet, the tiger was not locked up and mauled Torres to death.
Park manager Antonio Rojas told Radio Biobío confusion among the cleaning crew was a likely source of the tragedy. While the crew was supposed to clean the lion’s cage, a member opened the tiger’s cage. The cleaning crew “was told explicitly to only clean the lion’s cages,” Rojas said.
“I don’t know why or for what reason they opened it, I don’t think it was curiosity, because they weren’t new employees.”
Torres’ boyfriend, Javier Caro, who also works at the park and is a key witness, told broadcaster 24 Horas that management negligence was to blame. “No one ever told us that the tiger was roaming free. We went in to do what we had been told to do the day before, and as you can see, even they probably didn’t know that the tiger was out.”
Sara Ibarra, the victim’s mother, told news outlet Las Últimas Noticias that cleaning the cages was not part of her daughters’ duties. “She worked as a tour guide, but that morning they sent her and three other kids to clean the cage, without warning them of the tiger being loose. When they went in, there was nothing they could have done.”
This version was backed by other employees.
Carol Orellana accused the manager of lying. She told Radio Biobío that “the park didn’t engage in any protocol, they didn’t do anything. It wasn’t her fault, or the tiger’s fault, it was the park’s fault, because they did nothing.”
Other workers claimed park employees don’t have any insurance and similar, but not lethal, incidents occurred before, which management ignored.
Rancagua’s regional authority said the park had previously been fined for lack of safety protocols.
Senator Guido Girardi (PPD) announced a lawsuit against those found responsible.
“This isn’t the first time. Other people have lost parts of their bodies and animals have died or been damaged due to negligence.”
Javiera is from Santiago de Chile, she is studying journalism at Universidad de Chile, since 2017 and doing her internship at Chile Today.